Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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by Francesco D'Adamo

translated by Ann Leonori

Reviewed May 25, 2004.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2004.  122 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #5, Children's Contemporary Novels

The first time my husband traveled to Turkey, he and his friends were taken in hand by a tour guide who eventually led them to his uncle’s carpet shop.  There they were given a heavy-handed sales pitch.  When they got to the finest silk carpets, they were told that the work was so fine, it could only be done by 13-year-old girls.  My husband was horrified and since then has only bought machine-made carpets.

As I’ve thought about that incident, I’ve always hoped that it’s not really so bad as it sounds, or at least that the 13-year-old girls are well-paid.  This book showed me that, no, the truth is even worse than we imagined.

Iqbal is the story of a real person, a 13-year-old boy who spoke up against child labor.  The story is told from a fictional point of view, that of a girl who worked with him.  The story begins in a carpet factory where young children work from dawn until dusk, some chained to the looms.  If they act up, they are put in the “Tomb”—an old cistern—and left there without food or water, sometimes for days.

The children think that some day they will pay off their family’s debt, but when Iqbal comes, he points out that the debt is never paid.  No one has ever left because they have paid off their debt.

Iqbal brings hope to the children that some day they can escape their drudgery.

This is a powerful story of a child with courage to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.  It’s written from the point of view of a child, but its message will speak to people of all ages.  This book is an example of a powerful message put across without preaching, in a simple story that speaks for itself.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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