Illustrations by Sean Qualls
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Release Date: January 6, 2015
In Ghana, when a person is born handicapped or disabled, they believe it is a punishment from God. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born with a deformed leg. Rather than beg on the streets like other disabled people, Emmanuel is determined to do everything. As a boy, Emmanuel hops to school more than two miles in both directions. He learns to play soccer, becomes the provider for his family and eventually, a cyclist. In 2001, Emmanuel rides four hundred miles across Ghana spreading a powerful message: disability is not inability.
It is amazing to me that in such an information age, there is simply too much information out there for us to know all of these truly fantastic stories of the human spirit and what it can do. I am so happy that some of them find their way into movies, books, and stage. Emmanuel's story is special though because it comes from an area that here in America has been almost dehumanized. When you mention Ghana, the first thing people in the west think of is Africa. That's it. An entire continent. Emmanuel's story shrinks that down into manageable bits. It shows us a bit of Ghana, the culture, and how it can change. It shows how his story is pertinent to his area, but also how it is universal as well.
Emmanuel's story, his bike ride across his country, brought attention to disabilities and their misconceptions. He developed a huge following, reminding me of the fictional Forrest Gump and his run across the United States. Emmanuel had a message though, one of hope and empowerment for others like himself. The illustrations by Sean Qualls are spot on and blend seemlessly with the text. I am so happy that this book exists to continue Emmanuel's message of equality, understanding, and hope to another generation of children.