Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

by Laurie Ann Thompson (Author) Sean Qualls (Illustrator)

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story--which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey--is nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people--but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.

Thompson's lyrical prose and Qualls's bold collage illustrations offer a powerful celebration of triumphing over adversity.

Includes an author's note with more information about Emmanuel's charity.


..".[S]imple line drawings and stylish, expressive figures filled with layers of rich, warm color on pale, thickly painted backgrounds--capture Emmanuel's triumphs beautifully."

Publishers Weekly

Thompson (Be a Changemaker) presents a warm, matter-of-fact overview of the life of Emmanuel Ofofu Yeboah, born in Ghana in 1977: "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." Even before Thompson arrives at Yeboah's efforts to change attitudes about physical disabilities through a cross-Ghana bicycle ride (the subject of a 2005 documentary, Emmanuel's Gift), his determination to be seen for who he is--and not just for his disability--is made crystal clear. As a child, he "hopped to school and back, / two miles each way," and at age 13 he traveled to Accra on his own to support his family after his mother fell ill. Working in a palette of creamy oranges, teals, and gray-blues, Qualls (The Case for Loving) provides solid visual and emotional scaffolding for the setbacks and triumphs Yeboah faced while demonstrating "that being disabled does not mean/ being unable." Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Jan.)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 2--This powerful and winning picture book tells the story of a young man overcoming the odds. Born in Ghana with a deformed left leg, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah experienced stigma as a result of his disability: his father abandoned the family, and many assumed that the boy would be little more than a burden. However, with the encouragement of his mother, Yeboah refused to give up, hopping to school (instead of walking) and even learning to play soccer and cycle, despite receiving no extra help or accommodations. Thompson's lucidly written text explains how Yeboah cycled 400 miles in 2001 to raise awareness, forever changing how Ghanaians perceived those with disabilities. The narrative is simply and clearly written, and the illustrations are skillfully rendered in charmingly emotive ink and watercolor collages. A brief author's note explains how Yeboah inspired legislation upholding equal rights for the disabled and how he continues to make strides, working with organizations that provide wheelchairs to those who need them and setting up a scholarship fund for children with disabilities. VERDICT This uplifting account will resonate with readers and supplement global and cultural studies. A triumph.--Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Laurie Ann Thompson
Laurie Ann Thompson is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, a how-to guide for teens who want to change the world. An advocate for social justice, Laurie is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young readers. Emmanuel's Dream is her picture-book debut. Visit her at lauriethompson.com.

Sean Qualls has illustrated many highly acclaimed children's books, including Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Lullaby by Langston Hughes, and Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, which was named a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Sean also created the art for Dizzy by Jonah Winter, which received five starred reviews, and Freedom Song by Sally M. Walker. Learn more at seanqualls.com.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2015
Age Range
4 - 8 years

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