First Names with Malala

Happy 22nd Birthday, Malala! And Happy Malala Day, too.

When I discovered David Fickling Books’ new series First Names, I was quite excited. They sounded good and I hoped someone would send me one or two. This latest one is about Malala, and that is the only reason I read it, and am reviewing it here. She, and her quest for education for girls, is important enough for me to overlook the fact I was a bit disappointed.

Lisa Williamson and Mike Smith, Malala Yousafzai

The style of Terrible Histories, etc, is entertaining, but feels wrong here. I’m unsure what age group these books are intended for, but whether young or older, readers can manage a more serious style of writing.

The jokes wear thin if you stop and consider what’s happening in the lives of real people. I don’t imagine Malala’s parents felt at all in the mood for jokes when their daughter’s life was in danger after she was shot. Yet, there the joke is.

I have learned new facts about Malala, and I probably admire her more now, but I’d have liked a different kind of book. I’m not sure the horror of the Taliban lends itself to cartoons. Yes, it’s great to see how Malala like many older siblings was less than keen to acquire younger brothers. We want to see her as the normal girl she is, or at least was.

Malala was lucky enough to have the right parents, and she has done many great things. We are lucky to have got to know this brave girl and to see how she’s working to educate girls all over the world.

My wish is this book will be read and enjoyed by many, and that the cartoon style Malala will help children understand what happened and what continues to happen in our insane world. I just hope its young readers haven’t been underestimated.

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