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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating…

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (2009)

by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

Other authors: Mary Schuck (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4601247,579 (4.11)214
  1. 21
    Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: A different, but equally positive, story of growing up in Africa

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» See also 214 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
A young boy in Malawi determinedly builds a windmill to light his home, as well as his life. A well written overview of the poverty and corruption around him that made attempts to better his family's life so difficult. ( )
  addunn3 | Sep 27, 2018 |
My 12 year old nephew suggested this one for me--I thought it would be a nice, straightforward account of a boy who built a windmill ... but it turned out to be one of the more moving experiences I've had reading this year. There's a harrowing longish sequence in the middle involving famine which gives the rest of the book its emotional gravitas.

It certainly makes me feel privileged to be so blasé about things like the Internet, Starbucks, sandwiches, etc. Malawi is a very different place--more different than I would have thought prior to reading the book. Very much recommended.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Sep 19, 2018 |
The Premise
Much of the first half of the book is the captivating scene setting of day to day life in his village whilst William is a young boy. It then moves to the devastating impact of famine on the village and surrounding area including forcing William to give up his much wanted place at secondary school as the family struggle to survive. At this point William avails himself of a small library attached to the primary school and to all intents and purposes teaches himself physics. As the grip of the famine eases but a shortage of funds means William can not return to school he starts to put his learning into practice building, to the initial bemusement of the village, a large windmill which he uses to bring electric light to his family home.

Kamkwamba and his co-author Bryan Mealer have written in a simple, straightforward narrative style which felt very authentic given the author was a child when much of the book took place. The descriptions of the famine were all the more heart rendering for this candid approach as he factually explains the consequences for himself, his family and the wider community in terms that leave little to the imagination.
He also paints compelling pictures of his village and many of its inhabitants. Harder to achieve but still successful is the scene setting of an environment so different to that which most Western readers will recognise. He explains concepts like the role of the chief and the widespread belief in magic in a way which clarify without ever judging.
Whilst I was fascinated by William’s ingenuity and dedication as he starts to try and build his windmill (no drill… no worries. He just makes his own from a hot nail and a cob of corn) I did lose focus through some of the latter part of the book which has pages of details about electricity and physics which are not topics where I have any real knowledge or capability! Despite this I was mentally cheering for him as he succeeded and as educational opportunities opened up for him as a result.
An inspiring and powerful story about what commitment and effort can accomplish even in difficult circumstances whilst making a powerful point about the power of literacy (and access to books) ( )
  itchyfeetreader | Apr 27, 2018 |
This was a very good book for a young reader who is not familiar with African culture. The author have great examples of modern conveniences when describing his village's way of living. He used simple terms.

The author's experience is inspiring for young readers. ( )
  godmotherx5 | Apr 5, 2018 |
A truly beautiful and inspirational story about a young man with access to a library and lots of time on his hands after his family can no longer afford his school fees. Despite crippling famine, poverty, and illness there is triumph....all because of a little free library and lots of curiosity and creativity! Excellent story! And very inspiring young man! ( )
  RivetedReaderMelissa | Mar 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
An autobiography so moving that it is almost impossible to read without tears. In understated and simple prose, Kamkwamba and Mealer offer readers a tour through one Malawian boy’s inspiring life.
With so many tales of bloody hopelessness coming out of Africa, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind reads like a novel with a happy ending, even though it’s just the beginning for this remarkable young man, now 21 years old.
added by lampbane | editGood, Mark Frauenfelder (Sep 29, 2009)
This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams, and is especially resonant for Americans given the economy and increasingly heated debates over health care and energy policy.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kamkwamba, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mealer, Bryanmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Schuck, MaryIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kerner, Jamie LynnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
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Original publication date
Important places
Important events
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To my family
First words
The preparation was complete, so I waited.
I try, and I made it.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the original work, published in 2009, subtitled "Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope." Please do not combine it with the Young Reader's Edition or the Picture Book Edition (published in 2012).
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A picture book about William Kamkwamba, a 14 year old boy suffering through the drought that occurred in Africa. William's interest in how things work and the ill effects of the drought lead him to a library, where he learns about windmills. He dreams of building a windmill for his family and village. Good for teaching children about hardships and how to overcome them.
Haiku summary
An African boy
Lights his village with the wind,
Earns my great respect

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

This immensely engaging tale relates how an enterprising teenager in Malawi builds a windmill from scraps he finds around his village and brings electricity, and a future, to his family.

» see all 4 descriptions

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Average: (4.11)
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2 6
2.5 3
3 34
3.5 25
4 103
4.5 23
5 84


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