Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal


Publication Date: 30 Mar. 2021
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9780702263071

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    Fozia stiffened when she saw the familiar brick-kiln chimney loom ahead. Black smoke spewed into the sky—so it was working again. What if the owner recognised her?

    Twelve-year-old Fozia has survived the worst flood in Pakistan’s history. But her life will never be the same. With her parents missing, Fozia now lives with Jehan’s family in a new village. As she slowly rebuilds her life, she fears everything could fall apart if her secret is uncovered... or if the brick-kiln owner finds her.

    To keep the memories of her family alive in her heart, Fozia tells her friends a fairytale. Prince Zal rides a magic carpet on a quest to find his little sister, battling leopards and dangerous fairies along the way. But can he succeed if the truth behind Fozia’s story is revealed?

    Information

    Book Type:
    Age Group: 11 years +
    Traffic Lights:
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 5/5

    Review

    After 12-year-old Fozia was flooded out of her village by a terrible monsoon, she was rescued by 9-year-old Jehan and subsequently taken in by his family. While Fozia is very grateful to Jehan and his family for taking her in, she feels terribly guilty; she misses her family very much, she grieves for her little sister who died in the floods, and she worries that she will be forced to take her parents’ place working at the brick kiln in her old village to pay off her parents’ secret debt.

    However, Fozia puts on a brave face and goes about her new life, all the while telling a story to Jehan and his brother Amir, a story about the brave Prince Zal and his quest to find his sister.

    Over the course of the book, Fozia slowly comes to accept that her parents are really gone, and her new family helps her raise money to pay off the brick kiln owner and cancel the debt. As she continues telling her story about Prince Zal, readers come to realise that the story is rooted in the young girl’s real life. It turns out that Fozia has an older brother named Zal, who was sent away to hospital when the family discovered he had leprosy—the debt to the brick kiln owner was to pay for Zal’s medicine, and his condition had to be kept a secret so the family wouldn’t be shunned.

    In the end, Fozia and Zal are reunited, the debt is cancelled, and the siblings come to live with their new family, grateful for the chance to be together in safety again.

    This is a heart-warming story about family, touching on complicated topics about culture and life in developing countries such as Pakistan, while the frequent use of native language and words throughout the story adds depth and engagement.

    Touching on topics such as grief, bonded labour, stigma surrounding illnesses such as leprosy, and the overall challenges that can be faced living in Pakistan, this story is a rewarding and illuminating read for younger readers.

    Themes

    flooding, Pakistan, family, displacement, leprosy, stories, fairy tales, frame narrative

    Content Notes

    Not applicable.