The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Picture Book Edition)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Picture Book Edition)

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Annotation: William Kamkwamba details how he ignored naysayers and was able to bring electricity and running water to his desperately poor village in Africa when he built a makeshift windmill out of scrap metal and spare parts.
Genre: Engineering
Catalog Number: #58054
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: STEAM STEAM Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Dial
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2012
Illustrator: Zunon, Elizabeth,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8037-3511-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-53120-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8037-3511-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-53120-8
Dewey: 621.4
LCCN: 2011021536
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
In his drought-stricken village in Malawi, Kamkwamba, 14, had to drop out of school, but he read about windmills in the library, and with scraps from the trash cluding a tractor fan, a shock absorber, the frame of a broken bicycle, rusted bottle caps, and plastic pipes buildt a windmill tower that brought electricity to his village. Based on the adult best-selling version of a true story, this picture book in accessible free verse will draw kids who love to construct their own engineering gadgets. Especially appealing is the triumph of the young boy who bottled, banged, and tinkered and saved his grown-up world. Zunon's double-page artwork, a blend of oil paintings and cut paper, shows the drought-stricken countryside and then the trash pieces the boy collects and recycles into a machine that makes energy for his community. The long afterword fills in more about the severe drought that brought famine and killed more than 10,000 people and about Kamkwamba's engineering studies now.
Horn Book
This junior version of the best-seller for adults describes how fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba saves his drought-blighted Malawi village: after teaching himself English and reading science books at a library donated by "the Americans," he creates a windmill from odd parts. It's an amazing, emboldening story honored by the handsome oil paint and cut-paper illustrations, which call to mind quilts.
Kirkus Reviews
The true story of a Malawian teenager who leveraged need and library research into a windmill constructed from found materials. Forced by drought and famine to drop out of school, William dreams of "building things and taking them apart." Inspired by science books in an American-built library near his village, his dreams turn to creating "electric wind." Despite the doubts of others he begins--assembling discarded bicycle parts and other junk into a rickety tower, triumphantly powering an electric light and going on to dream of windmill-driven wells to water the land. Kamkwamba tells this version (another, for adult readers, was published with the same title in 2009) of his tale of inspiration meeting perspiration in terse, stately third person: "He closed his eyes and saw a windmill outside his home, pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley." Zunon illustrates it handsomely, with contrasting cut-paper-collage details arranged on brown figures, and broad, sere landscapes painted in visibly textured oils. A plainspoken but inspiring tale of homespun ingenuity. (afterword) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
Publishers Weekly
Zunon-s (My Hands Sing the Blues) oil paint and cut-paper collages amplify the entwined themes of science and magic in this adaptation of the authors- 2009 adult book. Kamkwamba was born in Malawi in 1987, and when he was 14, drought was ravaging his country. Forced to leave school to save money, Kamkwamba studied science books at the library, learning about windmills-and their potential. -He closed his eyes and saw a windmill outside his home, pulling electricity from the breeze and bringing light to the dark valley.- Gathering materials from the junkyard, he assembles a windmill that creates -electric wind- and even lights a light bulb. Tradition and -tales of magic- combine with the promise of technology in this inspiring story of curiosity and ingenuity. Zunon-s artwork combines naturalistic and more whimsical elements; the African sun beats down on Zunon-s villagers, ribbony -ghost dancers- encircle Kamkwamba-s bed while he sleeps, and blue cut-paper swirls sweep toward the windmill. While the narrative simplifies Kamkwamba-s creative process, an afterword provides additional detail for readers who share his mechanical inclinations. Ages 6-8. Agent: ICM. Illustrator-s agent: Painted Words. (Jan.)

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3&12; Based on the best seller of the same title, this picture-book biography chronicles Kamkwamba's teen years in a Malawian village. As he tills the soil, his mind teems with a mix of mechanical questions and the magical stories relayed by his elders. When a drought destroys the crops, his education fund dries up as well. Kamkwamba seeks refuge in the American-built library, where, dictionary in hand, he decodes the function of a windmill that has captured his interest. Despite the murmurings of incredulous villagers, the young man assembles junkyard scraps to build "electric wind." The third-person descriptions and dialogue are flavored with African phrases. Zunon's compositions, rendered in cut paper and oils, create a variety of moods. Colorfully garbed ghost dancers populate the boy's dreams, while crumpled tan rice paper, arranged to depict a high horizon line just beneath a blazing sun, forms a parched landscape, overwhelming in scale. Swirls of patterned blue and green paper portray the wind that propels the blades of his creation. While an extensive author's note explains that it took several years to achieve the ability to irrigate, the lack of clear visuals to show how wind becomes electricity (and ultimately pumps water) may frustrate young children. That caveat aside, this is a dynamic portrait of a young person whose connection to the land, concern for his community, and drive to solve problems offer an inspiring model. It would pair well with one of the recent titles about Wangari Maathai.&12; Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Voice of Youth Advocates
By Malawian standards, Kamkwamba is a normal teenhe loves to hunt with his dog and help his father with the annual maize harvest. He lives in a tiny village with his family, and while life is not luxurious, he never goes without. That all changes when a famine ravages Malawi. William's family and the majority of his countrymen begin to starve. He survives but is unable to afford school and begins to visit the local library. In the library, he finds a book about electrical systems and creating power. He realizes that he can create power by making a windmill using objects in the village dump. As he begins construction on the windmill, his fellow villagers start to doubt his sanity, but William perseveres. His windmill works and begins to power larger and larger objects. Soon his family's home has full electricity and William sets up a small business charging cell phones. William goes far with his creation; from his little village in Malawi, he travels to a TED conference in Johannesburg and then to America.The story of Kamkwamba was originally published as adult nonfiction in 2010. This is a version of that title tailored specifically for a young adult audience. This version abbreviates background information about the African interior country of Malawi and truncates long passages regarding the science behind electricity. While this book is easier to read, a young reader edition of the original book was not necessary; the 2010 edition of the book is appropriate for teen readers. The tale remains inspirational and should be read by teens, but librarians can continue to recommend the original.Morgan Brickey.
Word Count: 1,351
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 148136 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.3 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q56310
Lexile: 860L

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how - even in the worst of times - a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world.


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