Mary's Book Corner
This is the moving story of Bonyo Bonyo, a Kenyan boy who dreams of becoming a doctor. Through his courage and dedication he is able to go to school, move to the states, and attend medical school. Years later he goes back to Kenya and builds a clinic for the village.
This is a beautiful story with amazing illustrations. It is a moving tale of hope and courage. Overall, a home run.
by DubaiReader's Reviews
February 20, 2012
I read this beautifully illustrated book with a seven year old boy and he was fascinated by the fact that it was a true story. He said "Bonyo Bonyo was a very determined boy, who realised that he had to work hard in school if he was going to fulfil his dream and become a doctor." He would like his friends to read it too. READ MORE
Africa Access Review
Megan Hershey, Indiana University
Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya tells the story of Bonyo Bonyo's journey to become a physician. The story is told in Bonyo's words by Vanita Oelschlager who interviewed him and wrote this unique book. Born in the early 1960s near Kisumu, in western Kenya, Bonyo was inspired to pursue medicine after the tragic death of his infant sister. With help from his family, community members and strangers, Bonyo was able to attend boarding school many miles from his home and, ultimately, to complete his university and medical training in the United States. This training allowed Bonyo to attain his life's goal of establishing a medical clinic in his home village. Bonyo Bonyo's story emphasizes the value of education coupled with hard work and focuses heavily on the themes of togetherness and community support. This beautifully illustrated and richly detailed book is recommended for purchase. READ MORE
The Children's Book Review
by Tina Vasquez
February 7, 2011
Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya is a must-read for every American child. In the land of plenty, it’s vital to remind yourself and your children of how lucky they are to live in a country where education is considered a human right. Bonyo Bonyo is the moving story of real life Dr. Bonyo and his dream of becoming a doctor, as told by Bonyo himself to author Vanita Oelschlager.
Despite overcoming extraordinary circumstances and unbelievable hardships, Bonyo’s story is relayed in a way not intended to illicit sympathy. The young boy’s experiences are related rather matter-of-factly, giving the impression that it went without question that Bonyo would do whatever necessary to obtain an education.
Growing up in Western Kenya in a family of struggling farmers, Bonyo enjoyed the simple things in life and was a happy child, but it was the death of his sister when Bonyo was nine that forever changed the path his life would take. Akinyi, Bonyo’s sister, died because his village did not have access to clean water or medical care. From that day forward Bonyo swore that he would grow up to put a hospital in his village to help other children like Akinyi.
The problem was that Bonyo’s family could not afford the dollar it would cost to send him to school that year, but a chance encounter with the principal of a school sends Bonyo on an amazing lifelong journey. Eventually, he would find himself at medical school in Texas with a blanket and $11 in his pocket and years later, he would fulfill his lifelong dream.
Bonyo’s emotional journey is only made more beautiful by the illustrations of Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc, whose striking artwork will take your breath away. Portions of the book are in vivid, bold colors, while other portions only feature daring black and white silhouettes— though all of it is amazing.
Vanita Oelschlager’s book dedication is the perfect summation of Bonyo’s story and a reminder of the millions like him “whose dreams brought them to America with the promise they might be fulfilled.”
Picture Book Depot
July 10, 2010
Author Vanita Oelschlager has done it again! In her new book, Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya, Oelschlager tells the moving story of a poor but determined boy on a quest to become a physician.
In his own words, Bonyo Bonyo tells what it was like to grow up in Western Kenya. He lived a simple life and did not mind being poor until he turned eight years old. That was when his baby sister grew sick because Bonyo’s village did not always have clean water for its residents to drink. His beautiful sister died at the age of 6 months because there was no doctor or nurse to care for her.
Bonyo vowed to become a doctor someday, and Oelschlager’s book tells the touching story of how a kind school principal became Bonyo’s sponsor when his parents couldn’t afford to send him to school.
The principal’s school was far away, and Bonyo had to walk to get there. At one point he even had to cross a dangerous river, but even that didn’t stop him. He focused on his goal and made it to his new school, and eventually to an American school in Texas, where he finally studied to be a doctor.
This is a wonderful story of courage, love and dedication that should not be overlooked. Bonyo worked tirelessly for things that many students in America take for granted.
At his journey’s end, Bonyo earned his medical degree and established a health center in his village. To this day, he visits the medical center twice each year, taking young, eager doctors with him to care for the generous people from his village.
For a wonderful lesson in culture, dedication, goal-setting and human services, don’t miss the story of Bonyo Bonyo.
Children's Book Feature
by Teresa Scollon
Bonyo Bonyo has a dream: he wants to build a hospital in his Kenyan village to help children like his baby sister Akinyi, who died when she was very young. To build a hospital, Bonyo Bonyo knows he must go to school, and with the help of others and his own courage, he travels far to go to school. He even travels to Texas, where he attends university and medical school, and Ohio, where he continues training until he is ready to come back to Kenya and build a clinic. Each time he faces an obstacle—no money for school, or the need to cross a flooded and dangerous river—community people help him. A lovely and beautifully illustrated story of commitment and togetherness, or harrambee. All net profits from the book will be sent to Dr. Bonyo’s Mission. For ages four to ten.
by Hazel Rochman
“Inspirational” is the word for this picture-book biography of a poor child in rural Kenya who grows up to become a successful doctor in the U.S. and returns to set up a clinic in his home village. True to Bonyo’s viewpoint, the direct first-person narrative begins with the young boy’s life of hardship, his heartbreak when his baby sister dies, and his dream that he will someday put a hospital in the village. He walks barefoot for two days across two rivers in order to attend boarding school, eventually makes it to Catholic high school, and then at 17 is accepted into a Texas college on scholarship. The clear illustrations with thick black lines and glowing color are dramatic yet spare, portraying the ever-present hardship and hunger in the village, the boy’s struggle to get an education, and his determination to succeed. The quiet, triumphant climax shows people today lining up with their babies at Dr. Bonyo’s village clinic. The message of harrambee, of togetherness, is universal.