cover image Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala Yousafzai, illus. by Kerascoët. Little, Brown, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-31957-7

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. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Karolina Sutton, Curtis Brown U.K. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Oct.)