Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala’s Magic Pencil
Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët
Puffin Books

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and campaigner for the rights of every child to attend school, has written an autobiographical account of her life designed for young audiences.
She tells of her childhood in Pakistan and uses a favourite television show she liked to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to help other people and sometimes himself.
Gradually her desire for a magic pencil of her own translates as she grows into a discovery of the need to take real action. She learns that the troubles in her home village – children working to support their families and thus unable to go to school;

the gender inequalities and with the arrival of the (unnamed) Taliban, the ban on girls being educated, are things that need to be spoken about.
Malala starts writing and speaking out: “My voice became so powerful that dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed,” she states simply; the hospital band around her wrist being the only indication of all that she’s gone through.

Her quest for justice and for making the world a more peaceful place continues, a quest that has been joined by many others.
The final spread shows Malala giving her famous speech before the United Nations: “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

Here the force of her words and the message therein, that by finding your own voice, everyone can become a powerful force for positive change, resounds loud and clear.
The watercolour and ink illustrations of Malala’s daily life by Kerascoët (the joint pen name of the French illustrators, comics and animation artists Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset) give a wonderful sense of place; and the overlay of gold highlights her optimism and hope for making the world a fairer, better place.

Truly inspirational.
As the biographical notes at the end remind us, Malala has now become the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace: long may she continue her crucial work promoting the importance of education for all.
A picture book to share, reflect upon and talk about, again and again.

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