Author Malala Yousafzai writes this autobiography about how she found her voice to speak out for women’s education in Pakistan. At 10 years old, the Taliban had forbidden girls in Malala’s community from attending school. However, she believed that all children should have access to education. And so, she began writing for BBC Urdu about her life under the Taliban using the pen name Gul Makai and speaking publicly about the need for all children to have access to education. Even after being targeted and surviving an attack by the Taliban, she continued to speak up.
This story begins with a simple question, “Do you believe in magic?” It is such a simple question, yet it can be hard to answer. But, Yousafzai writes about why we all have magic. She, then, describes a television show she used to watch as a child in which a young boy has a magic pencil that could make anything appear if he drew it. She writes that she wanted a magic pencil to “…erase war, poverty, and hunger…” and a to “…draw girls and boys as equals.”
However, even though Malala wished for this magic pencil every night, it never came. After seeing a girl her age sorting trash into piles and boys fishing for metal scraps, Malala decides that instead of wishing for the magic pencil, she was going to work hard in school every day to be one of the top students in her class. Even when “powerful and dangerous” men who walked the streets carrying weapons forbid girls from attending school, Malala continued to work hard.
Furthermore, she began to speak out. She wrote about how it felt to be scared to walk to school, how some of her friends had moved away because of the dangers in the community, how much she loved school, and how much she loved her uniform. After writing and sharing her story, she began to write speeches and travel around her country to share her story. Then, the dangerous men tried to silence her— but they did not succeed. Her voice became even more powerful because people had joined her.
Malala’s final sentence says, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” This is written in the same metallic gold font as Malala’s drawings with the magic pencil— demonstrating that the pencil is, indeed, magical. It is magical because the “…magic is always in you, in your words, and in your voice.”
Kerascoët’s illustrations are bright watercolors that perfectly accompany and depict the text’s language. Some of the most integral aspects of these illustrations are the gold embellishments layered over the watercolor to illustrate Malala’s drawings with the magic pencil. These metallic drawings really add to the hopefulness of Malala’s dreams and wishes.