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

Posted on Jun 6, 2016 in BR Library

9780449817445By Laurie Thompson
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Pages: 40
Lexile: AD770L
Age Range: 4 – 8 Years

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.”

“Thompson…presents a warm, matter-of-fact overview of the life of Emmanuel Ofofu Yeboah…[while] Qualls provides solid visual and emotional scaffolding for the setbacks and triumphs Yeboah faced.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This powerful and winning picture book tells the story of a young man overcoming the odds.”
—School Library Journal, starred review

“Emmanuel Yeboah was born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg. As an infant, Emmanuel’s father abandoned him and his mother, but Emmanuel was able to endure and persevere with his courage, determination, and mother’s love. Emmanuel’s mother told him, “Being disabled does not mean unable.” When he was old enough, his mother carried him to school. When he was too big for her to carry, he hopped to school. Then his grandmother found crutches for him and his walk was easier. He devised a plan when the other students would not include him. He saved his money and bought a soccer ball. He would share it, but he insisted on being part of the team. His next milestone was learning to ride a bike with his one good leg. Sean Qualls’s acrylic paintings and Thompson’s text join seamlessly to show what Emmanuel’s life as a young child was like. The artist’s style and the vibrant, dense colors of the acrylic paint call to mind the work of Jacob Lawrence and Horace Pippin. Readers will discover that Emmanuel had “a sharp mind, a bold heart, and one strong leg.” He used these and the help of the California based Challenged Athletes Foundation to bike 480 miles across Ghana in ten days. His ride in 2001 raised awareness that, with determination and support, a person can still succeed even if he or she has disabilities. Reading this book can open classroom discussions about courage, accomplishments, and the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities. The “Author’s Note” serves as an epilogue to the story.”
Reviewer: Carol Wolfenbarger; Ages 4 to 8.
Children’s Literature