Monday, March 11, 2013

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

If you have been reading depressing books and need a pick-me-up to lift your mood, you should consider The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. You may have passed before it thinking that it was just a technical achievement story. Your library may have contributed to this misconception by shelving it at Dewey 621.31 with how-to books about electricity. If there is ever a contest for books most-handicapped by Dewey, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind can contend. It is a great story unlikely to be borrowed by someone just wanting to rewire their house.

Running electrical wires is part of the story, but no one should do it as Kamkwamba did. After he built a power-generating windmill from scraps mostly found at a local dump, he strung second-hand wires for lights and a radio in his family's house in rural Malawi, but he almost burned the place down. Constantly reading textbooks borrowed from the library of the school he could not afford to attend, he had no one with whom to consult. Safety was not one of his strong subjects and there was no one to warn him of dangers, which adds suspense and a bit of humor to this entertaining story.

Readers will be drawn into The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by the quality of Kamkwamba's storytelling, a talent the author inherited from his father. He was born into poverty in an undeveloped country where superstition still played a large role in daily life. His parents worked hard to provide for their children, but corrupt government and severe droughts threatened their survival. Kamkwamba shows how having a dream of a better life can lift a person, his family, and his village out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Likewise, his story is a great antidote for depressing books. Ask your librarian if you have trouble finding it.

Kamkwamba, William and Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. Willaim Morrow, 2009. 272p. ISBN 9780061730320.

1 comment:

ravingreader said...

I have had this title in my TBR pile for a while, and your review will prob move it higher in the list. I work as tech writer/editor in wind engineering in Texas (TTU) and am very into sustainable energy. This looks like a good fit.
Been trawling around your blog the past hour or so - great titles so thanks for that. Appreciate your effort. All best, liz