Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yusafzai

Malala's Magic Pencil

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai; illustrated by Kerascoet. 2017. Ink, watercolor on cold-pressed paper. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

Brief summary: 
Malala would watch a TV show about a boy with a magic pencil who was able to get out of difficult situations by drawing things. Malala tells the readers what she would change in her home if she had a magic pencil. She talks to her father about how she wishes all children could go to school. She is upset when girls are not going to school anymore, because it is forbidden for them to attend. Using a real pencil, she began to write letters to people about how girls were afraid to go to school to get an education and have a different life other than cooking and cleaning. She was even interviewed on TV.  Soon, her dream began to grow in popularity causing “dangerous men” to try to silence her. “But they failed.” She continues to make speeches and educates others how girls are not given freedom to have an education.. 2017. Ink, watercolor on cold-pressed paper. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

Comments: Although this is a brief autobiography of Malala Yousafzel’s life mainly telling of the lack of education for girls in Pakistan and the poverty that surrounds her, I believe it is what Malala does not write about that really is the most powerful aspect of her life. She did not write about how the Taliban shot her when she was returning from school. A murder attempt on a little girl. In the book, we see her looking out a window in a hospital gown and bracelet on. The most horrific time in her life is only hinted.

I thought about that for a while. She does not talk about how she was writing a blog under a pen name to BBC Urdu describing what her life was like under the Taliban occupation. There was a documentary made about her the next summer of her life with the military in her region of the country. Malala became popular with interviews, and so on. She does not share that in this book.

I actually remember where I was when I heard the news of this child being shot on her way home from school. A murder attempt on a child voicing that all should have an education? Our children really need to understand just how precious it is that we live in a country where ALL have the freedom to have an education and a free one at that. I wish she added that part of her life.  I want the young reader to stop at that point in the book and think, “Wow. She was shot for voicing about the inequality of girls not being able to go to school? That’s insane!” Yes, I realize it is a dream and hope type of book, but sharing that harsh reality that happened in her life may make others who take an education for granted, pause for a moment.

This book could not only be shared with elementary children but also could be shared with teens and adults in world history or sociology class. Questions to ask: What would that mean if you do not get an education? What kind of life would you have? What opportunities would you be excluded from without an education? What kind of life in Pakistan do women have? Has Malala made a difference?

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Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley

Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley; illustrated by National Geographic. 2016. Photography.

Brief summary: This book depicts a variety of parents in different military branches saying good-bye to their children before deployment.  It talks about how the children and soldiers cope with the worry and frustration of this separation. It encourages being brave and strong.

Comments: A narrative nonfiction. The large photos throughout include diversity of military branches, ethnic backgrounds, and female/male soldiers.  I like how this was a very real book about employment and  talks about the anxiety of separation for the children as well as the parents including  how to cope in the days to follow. These are actual families and includes a world map to show where the soldiers were stationed.  In the back of the book, there is a  section on separation  along with what brave means, who serves, a note to caregivers, and further resources sections. I’d like to see more patriotic books like this one. I plan to share this book with my students before Veterans’ Day.