Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai review – an enchantingly light touch

The human rights campaigner strikes just the right balance in her first picture book, which relates the story of her childhood with a magical optimism

It must be a tricky business writing for young children about human rights: too heavy-handed and your work has an excessively moralising air, too heartfelt and it sounds schmaltzy. Having captured the world’s attention as a schoolgirl blogger under Taliban rule in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai knows a thing or two about striking the right tone.

Her debut picture book, an autobiographical tale about her childhood and how she became a global campaigner for educational rights, immediately draws the reader in with the opener: “Do you believe in magic?” To an audience well-acquainted with stories featuring magic beans and genies in lamps, Yousafzai explains that as a child she desired a magic pencil that could solve problems large and small, from erasing war to creating a ...