The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

By William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

HarperCollins (2009)

This fascinating true-life adventure details the life of a young boy who, without more than rudimentary knowledge of English, teaches himself to understand electricity and ultimately builds a windmill from scrap from the town dump.  William Kamkwamba begins his story with the moment the townspeople gather to see if the windmill will work.  The suspense is gripping as he climbs the structure and connects the wires.  Then the wind obeys and the little bulb lights.  But this is not the whole story.  William proceeds to tell of his early life and the lives of his villagers who were dependent on subsistence crops which flourish only if the rains come.  A famine decimates the land and nearly kills them all.  As a result, there is no money to pay high school tuition or purchase hard-soled shoes and the prescribed dark pants and white shirts required for him to attend. To fill the time while his friends are in school, William turns to the local library, where he discovers the books that change his life and enable him to bring comfort to his family and, ultimately, to his village. Even as American readers learn about the pains of hunger, they will be filled with the joy of a unique accomplishment by The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

~ Tricia Herban

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