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Free?: Stories About Human Rights    by Amnesty International order for
by Amnesty International
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Free?: Stories About Human Rights is a collection of fourteen short stories and poems by well known authors around the world (brief bios are included at the back of the book), relating to 'the thirty rules of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights', whose articles are listed here immediately after the stories that best relate to them.

In her Foreword, Jacqueline Wilson reminisces about how common it was in her school to whine, It's not fair! She tells us she felt ashamed of doing so after reading The Diary of Anne Frank and understanding how truly unfair life can be for some. She also reminds us that 'we can do our best to right the wrongs.'

The collection starts strongly with David Almond's Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads, about freeing oneself from bad influences and having compassion for those who have suffered. In Theresa Breslin's School Slave, a boy takes brave action to save children exploited in a clothes sweatshop, and gifts them with the freedom to attend school.

Sarah Mussi's Scout's Honour, told through a police interview with a young Ghanaian is a hilarious account of misunderstanding and misadventure that could have ended badly. Patricia McCormick's If Only Papa Hadn't Danced tells of reprisals and flight after a fixed election in Zimbabwe. Eoin Colfer's Christopher recounts a story of sweatshop exploitation and betrayal.

Free? ends on a note of hope with Michael Morpurgo's No Trumpets Needed in which children reach out to each other in a war zone. Other writers featured in this inspiring collection are Ibtisam Barakat, Malorie Blackman, Ursula Dubosarsky, Roddy Doyle, Jamila Gavin, Margaret Mahy, Meja Mwangi, and Rita Williams-Garcia. Though fiction, these short stories reflect reality and deserve to be read.

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