Against the Odds

It has been said that one should be kind to everyone one meets, because each person is fighting a hard battle. While life certainly involves struggle for everyone, some people swim against stronger currents than others. Accordingly, we derive even more inspiration from the triumphs of individuals with physical challenges. Here are few new titles about exceptional people for a variety of age groups.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls

“One person can change the world.” That is the message of this colorful biography with the appeal of a picture book. Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa, with only one functional leg. In spite of his disability and poverty, he gained fame for the most unlikely of achievements: with no special equipment, he bicycled 400 miles around his country to raise awareness about people with disabilities. His feat inspired the Persons with Disabilities Act in Ghana and earned him awards from Nike and ESPN. Appropriate for ages 4-8.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
With this vibrant memoir in graphic novel format, the author reveals how a bout of meningitis in her childhood caused her have to adjust to wearing the Phonic Ear, a bulky devise to help her hear. She navigates the challenges of school by imaging herself as a superhero tackling the hurdles of life. She becomes El Deafo, Listener for All!  The charming rabbit-eared characters and accessible storyline make this book utterly appealing for ages 8-12.

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
Shane Burcaw is a bright and engaging young man who just happens to, as he puts it: “have arms and legs slightly fatter than a hot dog.”  Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Shane has never walked and faces an abbreviated lifespan. Nevertheless, he channeled his sharp wit and talent for writing into a contagiously popular blog which lead to this memoir. Now twenty-two, Shane confronts all the nosiest questions about his disability, including how typical situations like being intimate with his first girlfriend or going on a road trip become bizarrely complicated by his physical limitations. Appropriate for teens and adults.

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park Library

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