Akim Aliu: Dreamer (Original Graphic Memoir)
This honest, engrossing graphic memoir tells the story of professional athlete and activist Akim Aliu's incredible life as a hockey prodigy in Canada.
Akim Aliu — also known as "Dreamer" — is a Nigerian born, Ukrainian Canadian professional hockey player whose career took him all around the world and who experienced systemic racism at everyone turn. This graphic novel tells Akim's incredible story, from being the only black child in his Ukrainian school, to having his teeth bashed in by a racist teammate in the Ontario junior league. A gut-wrenching and riveting graphic novel memoir that reminds us to never stop dreaming, this story is sure to inspire young readers everywhere.
"With honesty and courage, Akim Aliu's Dreamer will inspire readers of all ages to move confidently in the direction of their future." - Colin Kaepernick
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this eye-opening graphic memoir, former pro hockey player Akim Aliu has zero time for bullies, racists, or bigots of any kind. Aliu grew up in the former Soviet Union with a Ukrainian mother and a Nigerian father, and he fell in love with hockey after moving to Canada as a youngster. But the game came with plenty of hardships as coaches, players, and even parents often assailed him with racially charged insults. Aliu’s detailed account of the abuse he suffered from a particular teammate is downright sickening—but the total indifference he faced from the hockey community when he spoke out is even worse. It’s a tough story at times, and yet the vivid illustrations by Karen De la Vega emphasize the excitement and joy that made Aliu keep pursuing his dream. Dreamer illustrates how Aliu became a tireless advocate for diversity in hockey and eventually skated to his own happy ending.
In this moving graphic novel memoir, Nigerian Ukrainian hockey player Akim Aliu recounts his childhood as the only Black hockey player on his high school team. After his father is released from an unjust imprisonment in 1995 Ukraine, the family moves to Toronto, believing they need to leave for Aliu to "succeed and prosper in life." Known as the "Black boy with the 'fro who only spoke Russian," Aliu is often met with anti-immigrant and racial epithets from classmates. Despite these stressors, Aliu is excited to join his school's hockey team. He soon realizes that if he does well during a game, "all of a sudden, you're approachable. You're one of them." Even so, he contends with prejudice both on and off the ice, as when an opposing team's coach calls him a racist slur following a goal. Though the volume's nonlinear timeline sometimes disorients, gregarious fourth-wall breaking lends humor, as when Aliu remarks "so I jumped way ahead of myself" after an aside. Clear, crisp artwork and richly saturated colors by De la Vega and Williams, paired with Aliu and Elysée's conversational dialogue, result in a riveting, animated account. Ages 8–12.