Monday, February 2, 2015
Book Review: Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls (Schwartz & Wade books, 2015)
This inspiring picture book by author Laurie Ann Thompson tells the moving true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young man born with a severe disability in rural Ghana who nonetheless bicycled across the entire country, raising awareness for disabled people throughout Africa and around the world.
The book opens with a touching tableau--a beautiful baby boy has been born, but with only one strong leg. We can see the despair in the father's posture and the fear in the mother's eyes as she looks at the baby's father. Disabled children in Ghana were not only considered worthless-they were considered a curse, and the baby's father soon abandons the family. The mother's hope is seen in her naming the baby "Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
In her first picture book, author Laurie Ann Thompson admirably succeeds in her mission of teaching children about social justice issues, a campaign she began in her young adult nonfiction book, Be a Changemaker, a how-to book for young social entrepreneurs. Thompson's tale is enhanced with mixed media illustrations by award-winning children's illustrator Sean Qualls (Before John Was a Jazz Giant and Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat among others). He uses a "primitive" style of illustration, relying on collage and paint to convey the emotion of Emmanuel's story.
An author's note explains that Emmanuel has continued to achieve great things, competing in major athletic events, carrying the Olympic torch, and starring in a documentary about his life, Emmanuel's Gift, which I will be putting on my Netflix queue. He continues to work to help disabled people, particularly in Ghana, realize their full potential.
This is a wonderful book to share with elementary school children; for older children it can be paired with viewing the documentary.
Posted by Fourth Musketeer at 11:03 AM