When Iqbal is sold into slavery at a carpet factory, he changes everything for the other overworked and abused children there. Iqbal explains that despite their master’s promises, he plans on keeping them as his slaves indefinitely. Iqbal also inspires the other children to look to a future free from toil…and is brave enough to show them how to get there.

This fictionalized account of the real Iqbal Masih is told through the voice of Fatima, a young Pakistani girl whose life is changed by Iqbal’s courage.

Take a closer look at Iqbal as examined in WOW Review.

Related: Asia, Fiction, Intermediate (ages 9-14), Pakistan

4 thoughts on “Iqbal

  1. Ana-Alicia says:

    This book gives a compelling account of a young boy who gives inspiration and leadership to help young slaves escape slavery from a carpet factory. I am glad I got to read this because it opened my eyes to the struggles children go through in countries with child labor. I had never heard or read very much on this topic or about Iqbal before unfortunately. It was heartening to read about the risks this boy took to free himself and the friends he encountered at the carpet factory. One thing that separates this book from others on the topic of child labor is that the image portrayed about the Pakistan culture is so richly detailed giving the reader a good idea about it.

  2. Jennifer Buntjer says:

    Throughout Francesco D’Adamo’s eloquently written book, the reader is immediately engulfed by the concrete imagery of knots and looms, tangible descriptions of the underground tomb, and visceral emotions that accompanied the lives of all the enslaved children in an carpet-making factory in Afghanistan. The story and its characters are handled with the dignity and grace of a talented writer, as he weaves an intriguing story about the true life of Iqbal Masih. While Iqbal’s character is viewed by all the children as a leader, the poignancy of this title was never assumed by Iqbal directly. For unlike a dominant influence exerting power over or acting as “savior to the oppressed, Iqbal never publically states himself as the leader of the group. Iqbal’s strength in leadership was gained through his individual actions and his bold questions about his environment and the people who were holding him in bondage. The theme of how one acquires power is an interesting concept and that could be developed into a multi-textual classroom focus by contrasting it with Kashmira Sheth’s, Boys Without Names. Sheth’s book is a story about a boy who is kidnapped and forced to work in a beading factory set in India. Both stories have male protagonists, who are in a struggle against their system, but their approaches to leadership and power roles are significantly different; one is a chess game always thinking of his countermoves in a collective group in order to gain the role while the other is gifted the power of leadership through his individual actions.

  3. Genny O'Herron says:

    The near starvation, abuse, and tragedy of childhoods stolen in the underground world of child labor in Pakistan (primarily in the areas of brick-making, carpet-making and field labor)are highlighted in this book through the story of Iqbal and the children he rescues. At ten, Fatima has already been working from sun up to sun down for three years in a clandestine carpet-making sweatshop of child slaves. As narrator, she illuminates this world for us with simple, yet stark detail and emotion. As we grow to love her and the 14 other youth who toil with her, we grow to hate her master Hussain Khan, the corrupt police who accept bribes rather than intervene, and the conditions that create this misery for millions of real-life Fatimas. It is Iqbal who becomes the face of child labor for us, though. Francesco D’Adamo, an Italian novelist (a cultural outsider)recreates the life of Iqbal Masih, who won the Reebok Human Rights Youth in Action Aard 1994, in a moving, gripping way. Through this book, D’Adamo, like Iqbal, ensures that the issue of child labor is not invisible.

    I would like to know from cultural insiders how the book appealed to them ….

  4. David Canfield says:

    This is a fictional book based on the real life of Iqbal. The story is told mostly through the eyes of Fatima, a Pakistani girl who he deeply inspired. This is a moving and sometimes disturbing story about child labor in Pakistan. It is an easy read, and is also easily accessible to junior and high school level students mostly. I am sure that U.S. adolescent readers will be intrigued and shocked to learn about how millions of children in that part of the world are sold into bonded slavery from which they can’t seem to escape. The children in the story who make rugs for up to 14 hours a day, are tortured, abused, mistreated and sometimes starved. After the children escape their slave-worker life, Iqbal works for the Liberation Movement that fights for the rights and freedoms of children in Pakistan and worldwide. He goes to Sweden and the U.S. after his story goes international. The saddest part of the story is when he is gunned down and murdered but assassins who are never caught. This follows the true life story of Iqbal, which can be found quite easily on the internet. This story is inspiring and heroic on many fronts; Even more so because the hero is a child who perseveres under the harshest and most extreme of circumstances. It draws attention to the plight of millions of children worldwide in similar circumstances, who are robbed of a childhood and proper schooling. Here in the U.S., we many times don’t get much exposure for stories and literature from that part of the world. This provides an excellent opportunity to see inside that world, and also become aware of the worst and most serious of tragedies; The abuse and exploitation of our children.

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