We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
A great many picturebook biographies have been written about Malala Yousafzai, and with good reason. Here is another one published this year that you should add to your growing list.
Free As A Bird: The Story Of Malala
Written and Illustrated by Lina Maslo
Published by Balzer + Bray (2018)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.
As the youngest recipient ever of the Nobel Peace Prize, it is not surprising that there is a plethora of picturebook biographies of Malala Yousafzai. Each one features a specific theme that the reader can latch on to, signifying a way of understanding this courageous young woman with the fierce heart.
In Lina Maslo’s version, the main theme is clearly evident from the title and the quote from Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s mother, who is often not in the limelight, providing both her husband and daughter the centre stage, mostly.
Malala’s love for school was fueled by her father who ran a school for both boys and girls. It was almost second nature for her to sit in a classroom and learn alongside older children, as it seemed part of their daily life.
Until the enemy came to their city, inciting fear, blowing up schools for girls, and demanding blind obedience to their edicts. The challenge for creators of Malala’s biography is how to transform an already-familiar story, such that it is perceived in a new light by the readers who already know what is going to happen.
Similar to Malala’s Magic Pencil (see below), there is also a clear sense of place in this narrative as can be seen in the image above. The reader is transported to Malala’s home, alongside the feelings of uncertainty that often happen during times of conflict. Lina Maslo also extends the narrative further by showing what happened to Malala when the fateful day came when her father could no longer protect her, as he had promised.
The deceptively-simple drawings, clean lines, and the splash of colours are also quite easy on the eye, as well as the text that is sparse yet powerful. This is one title that you should definitely add to your gallery of Malala’s PBBs.
Here are a few more that we reviewed over the years:
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Illustrated by Kerascoet (see my review here).
Malala: Activist For Girls’ Education by Raphaële Frier
and Illustrated by Aurélia Fronty (see Fats’ review here).
Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya and Illustrated by L. C. Wheatley (see Fats’ review here).
For The Right To Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston George and Illustrated by Janna Bock (see Fats’ review here).
Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter (see my review here).
#LitWorld2018GB Update: 28 of 40: Malala is originally from Pakistan but now lives in the UK.
It looks like a good new bio of Malala. I enjoyed Malala’s Magic Pencil most recently, imagine this will be another where students can learn about her. The illustrations look wonderful. Thanks, Myra.
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Malala is truly an inspiration.