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Grade 4-7-Thirteen-year-old Iqbal Masih was murdered in his Pakistani village in April, 1995, a few months after he had received an international prize and traveled to Sweden and the United States, speaking about his six years as a bonded child in Lahore carpet factories. The murderers-perhaps part of the "Carpet Mafia"-have never been caught. In smoothly translated prose, D'Adamo retells the boy's story through the eyes of a fictional coworker. Also sold into servitude to pay her father's debt, Fatima worked in Hussain Khan's carpet factory for three years and had forgotten almost everything about her previous life. She had grown used to the long hours, the scanty rations, the heat, and the cramped quarters of a life spent tying carpet knots and sleeping beside her loom. She and the others in the workshop are stunned when Iqbal appears and tells them that their debts will never be paid. He tries to convince the children that their situations can change and he escapes to the market where he hooks up with members of the Bonded Labor Liberation Front. Fatima doesn't come alive as a character in her own right, but the situation and setting are made clear in this novel. Readers cannot help but be moved by the plight of these youngsters. This thinly disguised biography makes little effort to go beyond the known facts of Iqbal's life. Nonetheless, his achievements were astounding, and this readable book will certainly add breadth to most collections.
Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gr. 4-7. This moving docu-novel, translated from the Italian, adds a new dimension to the recent biographies of Iqbal Masih, the brave young activist who brought global attention to the appalling facts of contemporary child labor. Told from the fictionalized viewpoint of Fatimah, a young Pakistani girl who toils alongside Iqbal in a carpet workshop and is inspired by him to rise up, the personal story is a close-up view of the power of Iqbal's cause and the anguish of his death. The harsh facts will rivet readers. Fatimah tells what it's like to be rented as a child to a cruel master, her small fingers valued for their flexibility in weaving. Foreign clients come to buy the carpets and barely notice her. Iqbal's artistry thrills the master, until Iqbal cuts his carpet, runs away, and shows Fatimah--and the world--the necessity of rebellion. D'Adamo frames the story with an introduction about child workers now and a terse epilogue about Iqbal's murder ("He was about thirteen"). The writing is simple yet eloquent. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.