Malala – Iqbal, by Jeanette Winter

malala-a-brave-girl-from-pakistan-iqbal-a-brave-9781481422949_lgMalala: A Brave Girl From Pakistan

Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan

Jeanette Winter, Author and illustrator

Beech Lane Books, Biography, Nov. 4, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Children speaking out about injustice, Bravery, Malala, Iqbal, Pakistan, Taliban

Openings: Two children from Pakistan spoke out against injustice in their world. Their bravery in the face of great danger is an inspiration to all who know their stories.

“Who is Malala?” the Taliban demands, looking into the school van. 

“Twelve dollars!  Until the twelve-dollar loan to his parents is repaid, four-year-old Iqbal must work in the carpet factory. Twelve dollars for a boy’s freedom.”

Beech Lane Books Synopsis:  Meet two heroes of Pakistan who stood up for the rights to freedom and education in these inspirational nonfiction tales from acclaimed author-illustrator Jeanette Winter. Two stories of bravery in one beautiful book—including the story of Malala Yousafzai, a winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize!

One country: Pakistan. Two children: Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousafzai. Each was unafraid to speak out. He, against inhumane child slavery in the carpet trade. She, for the right of girls to attend school. Both were shot by those who disagreed with them—he in 1995, she in 2012. Iqbal was killed instantly; Malala miraculously survived and continues to speak out around the world.

Why I like this book:

  • It is an illustrated picture book biography.
  • Great pairing of two very brave children in one book.  Read Malala’s Yousafzai’s story first and then flip the book over and read Iqbal Masih’s  story.
  • The text is very simple and childlike; the words powerful. This is an inspiring book that will introduce children to the courageous boy and girl who share a common interest–they want to attend school at a high cost to their lives.
  • The colorful digital illustrations capture the story in a manner that won’t frighten children. Mid-way through the book where the stories meet, an illustration depicts Malala and Iqbal flying kites on a double-page spread. Malala is holding onto to the string of her kite, while Iqbal (a shadow of a boy) lets go of his string. This page is symbolic of their intertwined lives and a kind of passing of the torch to Malala who refuses to be silenced by bullets and becomes the voice for human rights.
  • This is an excellent introductory book to use in the classroom.

Resources: There is an author’s note at the beginning of each story that highlights each child with more detail. This belongs in every school library. It is a great way to discuss the plight of children living in other countries. How are their lives similar and different? Encourage students to write a letter to Malala.

Jeanette Winter is the acclaimed author/illustrator of many highly regarded picture books, including The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq; Mama: A True Story in Which a Baby Hippo Loses His Mama During a Tsunami, but Finds a New Home and a New Mama; Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa; Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan; Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia; Henri’s Scissors, and Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes. 

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

Jeanette Winter, Author and Illustrator

Harcourt, Inc., Juvenile Literature, 2005

Suitable for:  Grades 2-5

Themes:  Libraries, Saving books, War, Middle East

Opening/Synopsis:  “Alia Muhammad Baker is the librarian of Basra, a port city in the sand-swept country of Iraq.  Her library is a meeting place for all who love books.  They discuss matters of the world and matters of the spirit.  Until now — now, they talk only of war. ”   Alia is worried about the approaching war.  She asks the governor to move the 30,000 books to a safe place, but he refuses.  This feisty and spirited librarian takes matters into her own hands and secretly brings books home every night.  When war turns Basra into a burning city, she begs shopkeepers and friends to help her hide the books before it’s too late.   As the fires burn out, the library is gone.  Alia waits and waits for the war to end.  She dreams of a new library.

Why I liked this book:  This is a true story based on the heroic efforts of a woman who is passionate about saving her town’s precious books.   Jeanette Winter’s text is simple and straightforward.  It is a non-threatening way to present war to children.  It also teaches children that people have the same passions and love of reading worldwide.  Thus driving home the theme, we really are all the same no matter where we live.  The book is beautifully illustrated in acrylics.  Winter’s simple colorful illustrations evoke the emotions of war  and hope for the future.

Activities:   There is a note from the author at the end of the book that gives history about Alia and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.   A New York Times reporter heard about the story and brought it to the world’s attention on July 27, 2003.  This is a good discussion book to introduce children to war as the story is not frightening.   Kids have seen the images of war on TV.  It is also a book about how one person can make a difference.  Listen to what they think and feel about war.  Discuss with children how people all over the world love to read just like they do.  Talk about ordinary heroes like Alia, and ask kids to share stories about local heroes.  Get children involved in donating some off their own books to local literacy programs.  You can read a Harcourt interview with Jeanette Winter and see  photos of Jeanette with Alia.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.