Author: Francesco D’Adamo (Translated by Ann Leonori)
Publication Year: 2001
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Borrowed from the library at school
This book is a fictionalized account of the real-life Iqbal Masih, narrated by a girl named Fatima. At the opening of the story, Fatima has introduced us to the carpet workshop of Hussain Khan and hiw wife, where children are “working off the debt” of their parents by making carpets. As far as the children are aware, each night, Khan erases a line on their slate representing one rupee of debt, and they will be freed when the lines are all gone. However, the lines always seem to replenish themselves in the mornings, which the kids don’t really understand because none of them can read.
On day, Khan comes to the workshop bringing a new worker to make carpets. Iqbal has made carpets before and is exceptionally good at it, but he also tells the kids during the night that they will never be released. Over the next few weeks/months, Iqbal changes the atmosphere in the carpet workshop and the attitudes of the kids toward their work. They start to realize that Khan is never going to let them go.
I really enjoyed this book, even though I’d never heard of Iqbal Masih before. It was really nice reading a story about such heavy issues as child labour and slavery written from the perspective of a young girl who was forced to work under these conditions, something I think that would help teenagers relate more to the story and understand it. Definitely something I’ll be recommending to students at my school.