Free as a Bird: The Story of Malala

illus. by Lina Maslo. 40p. chron. filmog. further reading. websites. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062560773. POP
PreS-Gr 2—This straightforward chronicle of one exceptional girl's fearless efforts to pursue her education presents the true story of Malala Yousafzai, who believes that "one child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world." When Yousafzai is born, her parents proudly name her after a Pashtun heroine. From a very young age, she dreams of being free like the colorful kites her brothers fly from the roof. Despite society's restrictions, Yousafzai's father refuses to clip her wings. They both become advocates for education for girls. The Taliban brings war into the Swat Valley and tries to silence Yousafzai (Maslo does not include details of how she is injured). The brave girl wakes up in the hospital in England and after recovering, continues to speak out for "those without a voice." Maslo's acrylic-and-ink illustrations portray Yousafzai, her family, and friends in a graphic novel—like style. She uses color and shadow effectively to create suspense and emotion. In one evocative picture, Yousafzai flies free over the mountains surrounded by vibrant kites and birds. An informative author's note and time line provide additional facts about this champion's life.
VERDICT Timeless in its message, this biography is a fine addition to nonfiction collections.

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