Posted Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012

by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Dial, $16.99; ages 7-9

What it's about: This is the inspiring true story of William Kamkwamba, a boy with big dreams who built a windmill from junkyard scraps in order to help feed his village. William always dreamt of magic — the magic of Ghost Dancers and witch planes, but also of the magic that made radios play music and trucks rumble by the fields his family farmed. When famine hits their village, William is forced to drop out of school and eat only one meal a day. Undeterred, he studies science books from the library and learns how to unlock the magic of a windmill, a magic so strong that it will help him feed his people.

Why read it: Readers are introduced to the culture of Malawi and see what it is like to live in a country very different than their own. The main character is a boy full of curiosity and can-do spirit who persevered even when people said he was crazy. Children see that hard work pays off and learn the importance in believing in their dreams. The illustrations are worthy of this empowering and hopeful tale, rich and warm and accented with cut-paper collage details. It's an inspiring story of courage in the face of hardship, and ingenuity with limited resources.

— Sarai Brinker, Special to the Star-Telegram

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