When he was only 14 years old, William Kamkwamba dreamt up a windmill that would produce electricity for his village in Malawi. The trouble? As Malawi was experiencing the worst famine in 50 years, William had to drop out of school because his family could no longer afford the $80 annual tuition. This meant he not only had no money to purchase the parts, but also no formal education to teach him how to put them together. Determined, he headed to the local library and voraciously devoured its limited selection of textbooks, then gathered some scrap parts — a bicycle dynamo, bamboo poles, a tractor fan, rubber belts, a bike chain ring — and brought his vision to life, building a functioning windmill. He spent the next five years perfecting the design and went on to found theMoving Windmills Project in 2008 to foster rural economic development and education projects in Malawi.
In 2009, Kamkwamba shared his moving story of perseverance, curiosity, and ingenuity in the memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope. Now, this modern-day entrepreneurial fairy tale is being adapted for young hearts and minds in the beautifully illustrated children’s bookThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition. Kamkwamba’s story shines with all the more optimism and tenacity in the hands of 27-year-old artist, Elizabeth Zunon, whose rich, lyrical, almost three-dimensional oil-and-cut-paper illustrations, reminiscent of Sophie Blackall’s, vibrate with exceptional whimsy and buoyancy.