Malala – Free As a Bird

There are many picture books available about Malala Yousfzai. I have reviewed a few of them on this site. When looking at a new book about her life, rather than considering it another explanation of her life, you start to look at what make it different, what part of her life they are really looking at. In Lina Maslo’s new book, “Free As a Bird: The Story of Malala,” Maslo looks at the brave things that Malala has done and the role that her father and his never-ending support has had.

free as a bird cover

*Note – I received a copy of this book from the #kidlitexchange for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

In Pakistan, girls are considered bad luck. When baby girls are born, there is no rejoicing to be had. But Malala’s father saw things differently. Ziauadin Yousfzai saw that girls were just as wonderful as boy and even ran a school that taught everyone. Because of her father, Malala grew up in a home where she was taught that she could do anything.


Free As a Bird is a book that can tell the power of Malala’s story to even the youngest of listeners. The violence in Pakistan in general and in her story specifically is minimized. Maslo never actually says that Malala was shot, but does have her sleep for 7 days and wake up in a hospital in England. Rather than looking at the violence, this book focuses on Malala’s determination to speak out about women’s rights and how that changed over time.

The metaphor of the bird is used throughout the book and it works exceptionally well. Maslo utilizes the bird concept to separate different portions of the book while making it all flow together seamlessly. There also seems to have been a very conscious decision to utilize few colors throughout the book. Most of the book is blue, white, red, and black and it helps to keep the focus on the words of the story.


The book closes with an important quote from Malala – “When the whole world is silent, even one voice is powerful.” This is a great message to all children and adults reading this book. Sometimes we might feel that alone we can’t make a difference, but Malala is a perfect example that we all need to stand up for what we believe for our voice could be the one to make a difference.

nfpb18I challenge myself to review a nonfiction picture book every week as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. Check out Alyson’s site for a link-up of amazing nonfiction books!

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