It seems like most everyone these days knows the inspiring and incredible story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani teen targeted by the Taliban for fighting for girls’ rights to an education, and the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
But how do you tell her story — and the adversities, hardships, and violence she has suffered while fighting for something so important — to young readers? Malala herself took up the task with her first picture book, Malala’s Magic Pencil.
Whimsically illustrated by Kerascoet, the book concisely and simply recounts Malala’s story and her work towards peace and education for girls the world over.
In simple prose, Malala has boiled down her story to the essentials and captured the spirit of her work so that children can understand what she is trying to do. The “magic” of the title comes out in the way Malala sees the world, and in her spirit and energy to make impactful change — and leaves the reader (or listener) with an understanding of how they, themselves have the power to wield similar magic.
The illustrations also do more than just accompany the story; they bring it to life. Perhaps the most striking illustration covers the Taliban attack on Malala. The story is written for young readers, so the Taliban is not mentioned by name in the text (though it is in the author’s note at the end), and the story itself never explicitly says what happens, just:
My voice became so powerful that the dangerous men tried to silence me.
But they failed.
These words are accompanied by a large swath of black, which fades to an image only of Malala in a hospital gown, looking out a window. Young readers won’t pick up on the horrific violence Malala suffered, but adults who know her story will find the portrayal a stark and chilling reminder of what this young woman has survived … all without explicitly saying or showing anything specifically violent or gory.
Malala’s Magic Pencil is the true story of one young woman’s incredible journey and passion for building a better world, and an important reminder that we hold the power ourselves to make the world a better place. That our words and action and courage are all the magic we need.
The book is in stores now.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author Malala Yousafzai’s first picture book, inspired by her own childhood.
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.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially education of women in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Her advocacy has since grown into an international movement.
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