Malala’s Magic Pencil (Malala Yousafzai)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Malala’s Magic Pencil, written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoët, the first picture book to tell the extraordinary story of Malala’s journey from schoolgirl to activist in her own words.

When Malala was little, she watched a television show that featured a boy with a magical pencil. Whatever he drew with it became real, and Malala wished for such a pencil of her own. She dreamed of drawing small conveniences for herself, and grand gifts for her family. As she grew older and learned of children who were too poor to attend school, as well as women who weren’t allowed to by tradition, Malala began to dream of creating bigger things: a peaceful world where all people were treated as equals. When danger and violence descended upon her home city, Malala found the courage inside herself to speak out against it. She discovered that, when placed in the hands of those who fight injustice, a pencil really does have the power to change the world – not with magic, but with words.

Wow. Being a fan of Malala and her work, I was expecting to enjoy this book, but it still managed to blow me away. There are some wonderful kidlit biographies of Malala – we’ve reviewed two of them – but hearing Malala’s story in her own voice gives it a passion and authenticity that is incomparable. It also manages to distill her story down for its youngest audience yet: the length is fine for smaller bookworms, and while the more violent aspects of Malala’s life are not glossed over, they are handled with sensitive subtlety. The art is a wonderful companion to the message, using shimmering gold ink to add the magic of the fantastical elements to illustrations grounded in reality. And the message, that of the power of words, courage, and education, is both timely and timeless. A gem of a book that encourages little ones to fight for their rights and the rights of others, and it’s enthusiastically Baby Bookworm approved.

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