In an era of misinformation and sifting for truths, this is a timely telling of the story of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a tragic car bomb explosion after exposing information about corrupt politicians. Gently introducing the reader to young Daphne, the text explores how her formative years taught her to think for herself and fight for what’s right – with parental influence, and knowledge and understanding from books. The text is basic – the simplest words have been used, leaving the poetic nature of the struggle to the illustrations, although on one page, the horrible things that Daphne’s enemies did are emboldened. The overall message is simple, but neatly explored. This is a tale of courage, persistence and resilience. The illustrations feel adult and sophisticated. There is a fusion between depiction of everyday life – such as the grown-up Daphne playing a word game with her children – and more abstract symbolic illustrations, such as the encroaching darkness when she was wrongly imprisoned in her youth, or the surreal reams of paper that surround her when she is shown writing. On most pages there is a quantity of white space that allows the reader to think about what’s being presented, and digest the information. Starkly, this is made even more apparent when on one double spread Daphne is pictured almost drowning – fighting the waves of loneliness as her predicament left her stranded – the text explains that others were too frightened to stand with her in solidarity. The most powerful image comes in the form of a slightly abstract illustration of Daphne’s ‘enemy,’ seemingly all men who twist and writhe and loom over a small Daphne, pictured armed with a sword. But it is with a pen that Daphne is mightiest, and the second half of the picture book explores how she wrote the truth and struggled against her enemies who did all they could to stop her. This is no ordinary picture book, but one with a clear message, and motive – to show that Daphne’s life was not in vain, but has perpetuated the mission of speaking out for what’s right and making the world a better place, not only in Malta but globally and across a diverse range of peoples and cultures. The book includes further biographical details at the back as well as family photos, and informs the reader of the author’s friendship with Daphne, and an extra clarification from Amnesty International.
Journalists are a mere extension of how we, as children, view the world – in an exploratory, investigative fashion. In a time in which peoples’ freedoms are being eroded, it is more important than ever that people are there to scrutinise leadership and governance, and who better to impassion in that venture than the next generation? Fearless follows in the footsteps of the recent surge in biographies for children, and goes an extra step in trying to combat misinformation.