Perfect Picture Book Friday/The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Hi Friends!

the boy who harnessed the wind book coverLet’s go right to our PPBF today OK? I’ve had my chocolate pie. Do you have a coffee or cocoa?

Title: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Author and illustrator: William Kamkwanda and Bryan Mealer/ Pictures by Elizabeth Zunon

Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers/ the penguin group 2012

Themes: African/ energy with windmills/ inventions by young people/ Malawi/ the boy who harnessed the wind picture book coverBiography/ Irrigation

Resources:  here is his Ted talk :

At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family’s home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life.

To power his family’s home, young William Kamkwamba built an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap — starting him on a journey detailed in the book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” and the new film, “William and the Windmill.

From online resources I got this:

– Alexandria City Public Schools chose The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind as a common book for 8th graders. The resources, which include detailed goals, lesson plans, and interdisciplinary suggestions for elementary school and high school, can be found here.

– BookRags also features some lesson plans on their site, in multiple formats.

– The University of South Carolina Aiken created a reading guide and research guide when The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was their 2012 First-Year Reading Experience book.

– The Museum of Science & Industry Chicago posted a lesson plan on building a wind turbine here.

– The University of North Carolina’s School of Education published a similar lesson plan on harnessing alternative energy here.

– Our reading guide for the novel can be found here.

Bryan Mealer’s blog:

William Kamkwanba’s blog:

What the Jacket says: The story of William Kamkwanda who in 2011 at the age of fourteen taught himself to build a windmill and bring electricity to his Malawi village during a period of drought and famine.

How he used parts of  a bicycle  and car parts to make his first windmill

How he used parts of a bicycle and car parts to make his first windmill

First three sentences:  In a small village in Malawi, where people had no money or lights nightfall came quickly and hurried poor farmers to bed. But for William, the darkness was best for dreaming.  He dreamed of building things and taking them apart, like the trucks with bottle cap wheels parked under his bed and pieces of radios that he cracked open and wonder: IF I can hear the music, then where is the band?

Why I loved it: this is a remarkable young man. I first saw this in my library under the ‘one book one community’ book club program. My library is lucky to be part of the A.V. Symington gift fund, a fund that keeps giving to my community through this free book give away and other ways in Loudoun County.

William Kawkwamba's windmill.

William Kawkwamba’s windmill.

This fund gave free books for kids and adults about William Kamkwanda. Tonight I will see him as he visits my library and I will tell you more.   I read both this picture book and the adult book about this remarkable young man and almost cried. The way he took ideas from his library books and taught himself to make a windmill from bicycle parts and old car parts is simply amazing. I learned a lot about the human spirit and attitudes that make me have hope for the future of Africa and for young people in general.  His attitude is beautiful. During the drought he dreamt of bettering his situation by himself. He didn’t wait for someone to make it better for him. He did it himself. His father could no longer afford to send him to school so he took books out from his library and learned about electricity and built a generator for it to light his house and from there to irrigate his mother’s garden and father’s garden so they could have a crop to sell when there was no rain for other crops.

Have you read books that give you hope in the future? Or in young people today? Yes, I’m thinking of Malala but also asking if there are others you have heard of or read about?

And here are my gifts to my writer friends:

From Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing.  . “What I might say if I were sitting next you drinking coffee.” By Charles Price.  Great advice! I read this in June and found it so refreshing I just have to share it with you. If you don’t get this blog this will make you sign up. You can find it HERE and it’s worth your while.

From my week during wownonfic from July 1 through July 7 I wrote three nonfiction manuscripts and one fiction one dealing with an issue of depression. I also learned a lot. In one of my searches I found INK or interesting nonfiction for Kids. A blog site here:

Now don’t forget I’m going to be in Texas next week and am leaving today. Flying out for six hours into Dallas/ Fort Worth airport. I’ll be speaking at the Rockwall Retired Teachers Assoc. on Monday and doing two talks to preschoolers in the Rockwall Library on Wednesday.  They aren’t quite ready to learn how to tell time so I’ll have to adjust my talk and reading for that age group. Maybe focusing on how the times they eat and nap or sleep or come to the library, that sort of thing. But the reason I’m telling you this is not to expect me to answer comments as fast. I don’t know if I have an internet connection at my sister’s house. Yeah! Yay! I’m visiting my sister! And even if I do, I will be busy visiting with her and her family so don’t despair if you don’t hear from me right away.

Listen to how pretty her name is. Anneliese Johanna Elizabeth Ash. Isn’t that beautiful? And she helped me so much with my first book , Annie’s Special Day, so much. It was before I had a critique group. Before I knew any other children’s authors. Before anything! And with her kindergarten teacher back ground she re read and re read and helped me revise so many times I can’t even fathom it now.  Yes, I revise like crazy for my picture books now but it’s with the help of my critique group and the 12×12 group and the support of all my author friends.

And now I’m autographing my book and talking about it!

So don’t give up, friends, writers and readers. Whatever you have in mind to do, if your heart is in it, you’ll succeed. See you next Tuesday!

Please join other bloggers in Perfect Picture Book Friday over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site to see other fun books.

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


© 2013  Clara Bowman-Jahn/ Clarike Bowman-Jahn

About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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29 Responses to Perfect Picture Book Friday/The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

  1. Catherine Johnson says:

    What a remarkable boy. That is fantastic! Have a great trip!


  2. Joanna says:

    I love this book. Pat also reviewed it here,, for PPBF. It’s a winner!


  3. Miranda Paul says:

    Love this book! Your list of resources is also very thorough and provides many opportunities for extended learning. And I’m so thrilled that Elizabeth Zunon will be illustrating my picture book in 2015! Thanks for sharing this one with even more people!


  4. Wendy says:

    I love this story! Have a wonderful time with your book and family in TX.


  5. I can see your compassion for those in third world countries via the books you choose. I’m thankful to be a part of Compassion, Feed my Starving Children, and a couple of other groups that help children be all they can be. So exciting to hear of boys like William who work to benefit their community.
    Have a wonderful time in Texas, and congrats!


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks, Jarm.
      Yes, William is special and he is trying to inspire other kids to do what he did, Use their imagination and creativity to inspire their passion to make something useful of their interests to help themselves or others. 🙂


  6. This is one of my favorite stories. William Kamkwamba and his work have appeared in many books. And, he is such a great role model for kids. Great choice Clar. It’s worth repeating.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you for your generous comment, Patricia. I should have checked for it in Susanna’s PPBF selection but thought since it was so new it wouldn’t be there yet. for getting how you would of course be so interested in this kind of thing.

      It was wonderful seeing and hearing him that night. 🙂


  7. Thank you for your encouragement, Clar…we are all on a journey…yours is so exciting and I’m thrilled you will get a chance to speak to adults as well as to kids.

    I love your PPBF pick, Clar! Another NF book…it’s uncanny.:) And how uplifting that this young boy dared to dream and followed through and now helps others believe that they CAN! Wonderful review…this is another book I saw at the library…and didn’t pick up…I will rectify that on my next library visit.:)


  8. Darlene says:

    Have a wonderful trip! Can’t wait to hera all about it. What a great book you introduced us to this week and an amazing young man.


  9. I happen to have this book on my wish list! I find these stories fascinating. I hope you enjoy your trip to Texas!


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks, Reading,

      I am enjoying it but it was hard getting my computer to connect to the internet. We had to wake up my grouchy nephew from bed and he helped unwillingly. But now it works. We even had to talk to the help man at At And T somewhere in Texas to help out.

      Please do read this book. You won’t be sorry. 🙂


  10. Wonderful book! I love that it is a true story – very inspiring. 🙂


  11. This is a wonderful story and have seen it earlier. Never tire of this inspiring story. Great choice. Have a great time on your trip.


  12. Great book, Clar, thanks for sharing! 🙂


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