Booklist (February 15, 2015 (Vol. 111, No. 12))
Grades K-2. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana with a severely deformed leg, but with boundless self-determination, he became a world-renowned athlete and activist. In the beginning of her straightforward, free-verse text, Thompson only lightly touches on what it’s like for disabled people in Ghana: “Most people thought he would be useless, or worse— / a curse.” But most of Emmanuel’s childhood is characterized by discrimination. When he tries to find work to support his sickly single mother, most people “told him to go out and beg / like the other disabled people did.” Stalwart Emmanuel, however, is resolute about making a difference, and he obtains a bicycle to travel around Ghana, nearly 400 miles in 10 days, to prove just how capable disabled people can be. Qualls’ illustrations—simple line drawings and stylish, expressive figures filled with layers of rich, warm color on pale, thickly painted backgrounds—capture Emmanuel’s triumphs beautifully. An author’s note describes Emmanuel’s activism in more detail, particularly the Persons with Disabilities Act, passed in Ghana following his bike ride.