William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. Authors
Elizabeth Zunon, Illustrator
Dial Books for Young Readers, Biography, 2012
Suitable for: Ages 6-9
Themes: William Kamkwamba, Science, Windmills, Irrigation, Children Making a Difference
Opening/Synopsis: “In an a small village in Malawi, where people had no money for lights, nightfall came quickly and hurried poor farmers to bed. But for William, the darkness was best for dreaming.” William Kamkwamba, is a 14-year-old boy who lives in a drought-stricken area of Malawi in Africa. He’s a curious boy interested in trying to figure out how car engines run and radios transmit music. He loves to study science and mechanics. When a drought hits his village and many people starve and die, William wants to help. He goes to a nearby library donated by Americans where he learns that windmills can produce electricity and pump water. He envisions a windmill outside his home pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley. He sets to work to build electric wind to bring light to his village and water to soak the ground and grow crops to feed the village. The villagers think he’s crazy.
Why I like this book: This is a powerful and true story about how a boy’s dreams, imagination and mechanical talents save his village. I love this book because it encourages and empowers children to imagine and dream big. They too can make a difference like William. It also introduces children to the Malawi culture which is unlike their own. The book is written by the now grown William Kamkwamba, who is a student a Dartmouth College. The book has a lyrical feel to it and Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations are simple, bold and stunning.
Resources: There are back pages of information about William Kamkwamba. Also Alliant Energy Kids teaches kids about alternative energies and powering toys with wind power. Visit Kids and Energy for more activities and resources about alternative power sources.
Friday, December 14, is the anniversary of the date in 1954 that the UN General Assembly recommended there should be a Universal Children’s Day. All of those participating in author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, are doing out part to raise awareness of the plight of children around the globe and to promote the welfare of children in the world by posting books which focus on multicultural/multiracial issues, human rights, and/or children who have helped to change the world in some way.