Book Review: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
If you know Malala Yousafzai’s story then you’ll understand why Malala’s Magic Pencil has led to a lot of questions in our house. Malala wrote this picture book to share her harrowing and ultimately inspirational life experiences with younger readers. In 2012, she survived an assassination attempt after speaking out against the Taliban rule in Pakistan and came to live in Britain. Since then, Malala has continued to use her voice to champion human rights around the world.
As you can imagine, it’s a difficult subject for a child to understand, but the story has been adapted sensitively.
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.
The idea of the magic pencil threading the tale together works brilliantly. Little M was immediately entranced by the concept of having the power to change the world. The gentle illustrations by Kerascoet also drew her in and softened the harsher aspects of the story. Because even though this is a children’s book, Malala doesn’t shy away from tricky topics. Poverty, suppression and threat lurk on every page, but there’s hope and bravery too. For those worried about the attack scene, it’s represented simply as a black page with the words:
My voice became so powerful that dangerous men tried to silence me.
But they failed.
When Little M first read this book, she was too young to understand it, but last year she wanted to know what happened to Malala. After mulling this over, we decided to tell her and thankfully she was okay with it. However others might want to wait a little longer. Although this has been designed for 4-8 year-olds, it covers challenging themes which might concern some children.
If you think your child can deal with this aspect then Malala’s Magic Pencil is an essential for your family bookcase. Truthfully it’s not one we would have necessarily picked ourselves (we were given it by a friend), but we’re really glad that it’s now part of our book collection. It’s widened Little M’s world in a gentle way and has showed her the power of speaking out. Thanks to Malala, she now has her own magic pencil too.
Little M’s Verdict
“Malala loved going to school and that makes me want to go as well. I want to be like Malala and stick up for myself and my friends. I would like to meet her.”