Thank you to Kathryn Hagen and the March 2017 Nonfiction Archaeology class for this compass.
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.
Nugget: Even though Emmanuel was born with only one strong leg in a country where people with disabilities were often considered “cursed” and begged for a living, he used his sharp mind, strength and determination to become a national hero and prove that “being disabled did not mean being unable”.
Needs Enticement:Opening line:
“In Ghana, West Africa, a baby boy was born:
Two bright eyes blinked in the light,
healthy lungs let out a powerful cry,
two tiny fists open and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.”
Escalation: Emmanuel’s father left after he was born but his mother raised him to adapt to his disability, never beg, and never give up, even when others underestimated him. He hopped the two miles to school and back on his one good leg, played soccer using crutches, and learned to ride a bike. When his mother became ill he supported her and his siblings through finding work in the big city 150 miles away. After his mother died he hatched a plan and found the resources to ride his bike 400 miles through Ghana in just ten days to spread his message that “being disabled did not mean being unable” to those with physical challenges and those without.
Satisfying Ending: Emmanuel successfully completed his bike ride and became a national hero.
Show words: cursed, useless, hopped, rode, earned respect, earned money, dreamed, planned
Sources: The “Author’s Note” refers to a documentary called Emmanuel’s Gift, an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and Emmanuel’s website but does not have a specific resource listing.
Why:The books shows children that they too can overcome challenges they face to realize their dreams. It gives children with disabilities a model—someone like them—who uses strength and perseverance to achieve. It shows all children how being disabled does not being unable.
Need and Want: Emmanuel needs to find a way to provide for himself and his siblings. He wants to help overcome prejudice against people with disabilities in his country.
Kristen's opinion: OMG, for those of you that love Mentor text like I do, this is one to create. The lyrical language and the powerful opening that draws you in; create the perfect combination to be used by picture book authors.