Emmanuel’s Dream


Although it may have seemed to some in Emmanuel’s Ghanaian village that having one leg only suggested his life was doomed, his mother believed in her son. Therefore, while she told him that whatever he wanted he would have to do himself, she carried him to school initially. School was said to be out of reach for disabled children. However, when he became too heavy to carry, he hopped the two miles there and back. What’s more, he learned to play football with the other children in the playground, using his crutch and then his one good foot. Furthermore, he practised riding a rented bike determinedly, picking himself up when he overbalanced.

Therefore, when his circumstances worsened at the age of thirteen and he was forced to leave school and find work in the city, it was evident that Emmanuel was made of stern stuff. Although his efforts may have been misinterpreted, so that his disability presented as an affliction that could be used for begging, Emmanuel would have none of it. In fact his determination was so strong, that by the time he returned to his dying mother, a couple of years later, he’d resolved to put Emmanuel’s Dream into action. Despite having only one good leg, Emmanuel was going to bicycle around Ghana.

It seemed everything about his plan was impossible, from his need for a bicycle, to kit, from his route through Accra, through rain forests, hills, forests, plantain farms, markets, grasslands and rivers. However as he cycled, Emmanuel’s story gained traction. It seemed that ‘everyone wanted to hear [him]– and his message‘.

Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls present Emmanuel’s Dream as a compelling, beautiful, rich, textured, painted picture book. What’s more this story builds so that we are completely involved, and thereafter determined to learn more about Emmanuel Ofusu Yeboah, and then his next steps…

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Emmanuel’s Dream

The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls

(Penguin Random House)– hardback

When Emmanuel was born, it seemed that having ‘only one strong leg’ would spell doom. Although his mother told Emmanuel he could ‘have anything‘ he learned early he would have to ‘get it for himself’. That included learning to ‘crawl and hop, fetch water and climb coconut trees’ and earning money. Although children with disabilities did not usually go to school in the Ghanian village in which Emmanuel lived,  his mother carried him, until he became too heavy, and he ‘hopped to school and back- two miles each way’. 
What’s more, it was at school that Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah demonstrated determination to play football on crutches and his one good foot. Furthermore, he sought to join his friends cycling when they rented bikes. And then, despite falls, Emmanuel learned to ride!
This success powered Emmanuel beyond the loss of education forced on him when his mother became sick. This forced him to travel to the city to find employment. What’s more, the attitudes he experienced there to his disability, inspired him to plan to show ‘everyone that being disabled does not mean being unable’. Thus Emmanuel’s Dream was born.
True stories of heroes, especially young heroes, who overcome startling odds, inform and inspire. We consider Youthquake or How to Be Extraordinary, for example. Thereafter, this boy’s life story is  startling. We wonder how, when everything seemed to be against him, he summoned up the drive and courage to seek more. Bookwagon recommends Emmanuel’s Dream highly for reading aloud, sharing, recognising and gifting.



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