Winter (Henri’s Scissors) continues her series of illustrated biographies with a two-in-one volume. One side memorializes Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani boy sold to the carpet industry to pay off his parents’ $12 debt. The reverse tells the now well-known story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who ignores the Taliban’s threats and resolves to continue her schooling. Of her pursuers, Malala says, “They are afraid of women. How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” Iqbal declares himself free when he learns that the Pakistani government has declared debt enslavement illegal. When he begins talking to gatherings of other child laborers, he is murdered. Malala, too, is shot; unlike Iqbal, she is flown to hospitals in the West, treated, and survives. Naïf, milky-toned digital illustrations make the story’s terrors easier to bear—the stiff figures and static action have the flavor of religious art. The thread joining these stories is the children’s thirst for education, no matter the cost. Readers who drag their feet to school may benefit, at least briefly, from an introduction to children who are desperate to attend. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)
In a two-in-one book that readers can begin from either end, Winter links the lives of two courageous child activists from Pakistan—Malala Yousafzai and Iqbal Masih. The pairing works to good effect; it is as if Malala stands on the shoulders of Iqbal...Winter’s spare prose and simple, colorful pictures illustrate both children’s circumstances and the mantles they accepted. An introductory note to each story provides a much-needed event summary. Readers will be moved by both sacrifices, and many will want to know more...This is an inspiring introduction to two important young champions of human rights.
With an economy of words, unembellished language and her signature flat, child-centric illustrations, Jeanette Winter (The Librarian of Basra) creates a quietly magnificent tribute to two extraordinary human beings...The front-to-back story features Malala, the reverse tells the story of Iqbal, and Winter smoothly joins them together in the center spread. Malala's story opens as her would-be assassin descends upon her school van, then backtracks to tell how Malala spoke out repeatedly against the Taliban's ban on educating girls...Winter describes the Taliban attack, and Malala's miraculous survival, in simple, child-appropriate language...In the luminous full-page center spread, Malala and Iqbal stand on mountains, gazing at each other under a starry sky, flying kites that dance across to the other's side. Malala keeps a firm grasp on her kite string, while Iqbal releases his. Even as Iqbal's story saddens us, we must remember him in conjunction with Malala, living proof that hope thrives alongside death. Coupling the stories creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Winter has created a radiant, transcendent book. --Allie Jane Bruce, children's librarian, Bank Street College of Education Shelf Talker: The biographies of two children's rights activists, Malala Yousafzai and Iqbal Masih, together in one book; their stories balance each other to create a radiant whole.
This picture book tells two stories (one side is Malala’s story; flip it over for Iqbal’s), introducing young readers to Malala Yousafzai and Iqbal Masih, two Pakistani children who fought for peace and justice and who both suffered violence...Winter tells each child’s story in clear, concise prose...Winter uses the imagery of a kite as both a metaphor for childhood and as a way to visually connect the two child activists. Mid-book, where the two narratives meet, a poignant double-page spread shows Malala, in vivid coral, flying a kite in a night sky, while Iqbal, shaded in an ethereal gray, can no longer hold on to his. Though both stories are painful, they can be a great place to begin a young activist’s education.
Muted tones and doll-like representations of the two heroes soften the tragedy of the stories, and the inclusion of kites as symbols of freedom are used to advantage as the ghostly Iqbal and vibrant Malala exchange kites on the transition spread between stories. With Malala’s recent Nobel Peace Prize award (made after this title’s publication), this work will fill demand for material at a primary-grade level.
Gr 2–4—Author and illustrator Winter, known for such works as The Librarian of Basra (Houghton Harcourt, 2005) and Nasreen's Secret School (S. & S., 2009), once again tackles the topic of humanitarian activism amid political violence in this two-in-one picture book. Malala Yousafzai, a young proponent of girls' education, came to the world's attention after being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. The corresponding story of Iqbal Masih, a young anti-child labor activist from 20 years earlier, is less well known—and has much less of a happy ending: the boy was shot and killed at age 12. Like Winter's earlier works, simple sentences and repetition ("Still Malala speaks out") give the story an accessible rhythm, and illustrations consisting of bold colors and shapes, each framed by a colorful geometric pattern, indicate moods ranging from the light pink of mourning to the bold orange and purple of defiance. The two stories are linked by a shared, wordless center spread featuring a kite motif from Masih's story. (The attentive viewer may note the symbolism in the choice to show Iqbal, in muted gray, as having let go of his kite, while Yousafzai, in full color, holds hers tightly.) The need to rotate the book physically in order to read each story adds a tactical element to the reading experience. Direct quotes from the young activists appear in red and purple respectively, and while author's notes provide background, this title lacks a bibliography of primary sources. Overall, a sensitive, age-appropriate treatment of a difficult but important topic.—Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ
A master picture-book artist introduces quite young readers to two astonishing heroes of the world born in Pakistan. Iqbal Masih was only 12 in 1995 when he was shot and killed while riding his bike. He'd spent several of his young years as a bonded slave in a carpet factory before he escaped to become an international advocate for the freedom of children. Malala Yousafzai began her public advocacy for the rights of girls to education before she was in her teens. Malala, who survived being shot by the Taliban gunman who boarded her school van, continues to use her voice for justice. Winter, in impressive command of the page with her spare text and calm, rich, digitally rendered art, offers this difficult material unapologetically. As she often does, she distills the stories to their essences, conveying with very few words the fearlessness and the hope wielded by these children. Iqbal's and Malala's stories are presented as two separate tales, back to back. In a poignant double-page spread at the middle, edge-to-edge art shows each child atop a mountain. Iqbal's kite string has just left his hand; his kite drifts away toward Malala. Malala's kite string is still in her hand, and her kite reaches toward Iqbal. No source notes or bibliography are offered; author's notes on each child summarize the facts. Brave and heartrending. (Picture book. 5-9)