Malala’s Magic Pencil
By Malala Yousafzai
Illustrated by Kerascoet
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 4+

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“This is an excellent book to begin conversations about world injustice with children.” —NYT Book Review

Description
Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them.

As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. 
This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.

Reviews & Accolades
“[Malala’s Magic Pencil] is…a triumph, for it is a story with hard truths, yet it is accessible for young children. The artwork, by the husband-and-wife team Kerascoet, has its charms, especially the opening spread where Asian motifs of gold ink stream from Malala’s pencil and notebook. But it is the voice of the writing that wins over the reader. It has a genuine innocence, heartfelt without any pandering and completely respectful of the young reader. This is an excellent book to begin conversations about world injustice with children.
The New York Times Book Review

Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, grew up in Pakistan dreaming of possessing a magic pencil like the one on her favorite TV show. At first, she believes that such a pencil could solve any problem—from keeping her brothers out of her room to erasing war, poverty, hunger, and gender disparity. But as Malala grows, so does her sense of purpose and agency; she realizes that change comes not from magic, but from the force of her own words and ideas. When “powerful and dangerous men” (the unnamed Taliban—an afterword provides details) forbid girls from attending school, she speaks up; when “they tried to silence me,” an allusion to her near-fatal shooting, “they failed.” Kerascoët’s bright, reportorial watercolors match the text’s directness and sincerity, adding gold embellishments to give Malala’s hopes and optimism a radiant physicality. The Malala in these pages is both approachable and extraordinary: even at her most vulnerable, turned away from readers and looking out the window of a darkened hospital room, her determination seems unstoppable.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Yousafzai, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and campaigner for the rights of all children to attend school, has written her first picture book. It is an autobiographical account of her life designed for younger readers. She gently introduces her childhood in Pakistan and recounts a favorite TV show where a young boy has a magic pencil that he uses to help people. The magic pencil becomes a reoccurring motif throughout the work on how to make the world a better place. Of the infamous Taliban violence, she simply says, “My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed.” The beautifully written book goes on to describe Yousafzai’s quest for justice and the importance of finding one’s voice. The enchanting story is accompanied by the beautiful illustrations of duo Sebastien Cosset and Maries Pommepuy, also known as “Kerascoët.” Sparse pen and ink outlines the bright, soft watercolors that effortlessly depict Yousafzai’s daily life and then are enhanced by delicate gold overlay drawings that highlight her magical wishes for a better world and the power that a single voice can command. This is a wonderful read for younger students that will also provide insight and encourage discussion about the wider world. Included are biographical notes and photos of Yousafzai and her family. The simplicity of Yousafzai’s writing and the powerful message she sends, make this book inspirational for all. Highly recommended.
School Library Journal (Starred Review)

“The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers. Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear. An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter.
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Pakistani

Themes
#OwnVoices
Advocacy
Cultural Traditions
Education
Gender Roles
Human Rights
Identity
Repression
Survival
War

Setting
Pakistan

Engagement Projects & Resources
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