[Welcome to my week of Sophisticated Picture Books]
My well-documented passion for the ridiculous means I can be quick to skip past non-fiction or potentially more serious picture books. It’s a terrible system because I often miss out on goosebump-making books like today’s offering of amazingness.
“In Ghana, West Africa, a baby boy was born:
Two bright eyes blinked in the light,
two healthy lungs let out a powerful cry,
two tiny fists opened and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.”
Emmanuel faces all sorts of challenges in a country where most kids with disabilities don’t even go to school. His mother carries him to school until the day he becomes too heavy for her. From that day on Emmanuel hops the four miles there and back.
At school none of the children play with him. He saves the money he makes shining shoes, buys a soccer ball, and will only share with his classmates if they let him play too. Every challenge thrown his way is overcome through a combination of determination and lateral thinking. “Emmanuel had a sharp mind, a bold heart, and one strong leg.”
He goes on to cycle 400 miles around Ghana wearing a shirt with the words “The pozo” printed on it, “The disabled person.” Everywhere he rides he talks to people with and without physical challenges. “People with disabilities left their homes and came outside, some for the very first time.”
Emmanuel is one of the most inspirational characters I’ve come across. Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls have done a beautiful job of sharing his story with us. This picture book deserves to be read far and wide.
Check out Emmanuel’s dream at Auckland Libraries.
Or buy Emmanuel’s dream from Fishpond.