The author and his collaborator have condensed the original memoir of the same name, a story of an innovative and compassionate boy coming of age during an era of extreme hardship in Malawi.
This newest incarnation of Kamkwamba’s tale is as absorbing as its predecessor and still delivers with equanimity facts both disturbing and inspiring. Kamkwamba describes his early life in Masitala, a tiny rural village where, typically, large families of subsistence farmers lived in huts without electricity or running water. Until December 2000, Kamkwamba’s life reads like an African parallel to the idyllic, early-20th-century scenes in Sterling North’s Rascal: soccer with balls made from plastic bags; juicy mangoes and crunchy grasshoppers; storytelling by the light of a kerosene lamp; experiments with old radio parts; loyal friends and faithful pet. A perfect storm of deforestation, governmental changes, flooding and drought creates a sudden famine. The text does not spare readers the effects of starvation and grinding poverty on humans and animals. However, there are also many descriptions of how and why power-generating inventions work, and the passages about creating tools from almost nothing are reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. Against astounding odds, Kamkwamba’s eventual creation of a windmill to bring lighting to his family’s home is nothing short of amazing.
Compelling and informative for a broad readership and a good addition to STEM collections. (map, prologue, photographs, epilogue, acknowledgments) (Memoir. 11-16)