Malala’s writing competition

The competition, which ran in the Autumn Term 2017 to celebrate the release of Malala’s debut picture book, Malala’s Magic Pencil (illustrated by Kerascoët), asked Key Stage 2 students to write about one change they would make to the world if they had a magic pencil of their own.

Entrants chose all kinds of problems to tackle: from homelessness to global warming, sea pollution to unequal pay – and they even touched on some lighter wishes, such as putting zips on football hooligans’ mouths or providing all citizens with fairy wings.

After much deliberation, the judges chose Year 5 Stella Harden as the overall winner.  Stella’s entry beautifully described the importance of communicating with others to find out what their lives are like – through her wish to be able to speak with her cat, Huffle.  Here’s an extract from Stella’s winning entry:

Malala's writing competition

If I had a magic pencil, I would rewrite the genetic codes for cats so that I would be able to communicate with my cat Huffle. I would imagine him talking in an Indian accent since Huffle was born in India and he would tell me about the adventure of his grandparents in Bengal. I would ask him about his perspective on the world. He could tell me about his sister, Honey. I could tell him about what I do not understand about cats and he could tell me about what he does not understand about humans. Like why we can’t jump as high as him since we are so much taller than Huffle or why we leave lights on at night when he can see perfectly well in the dark. I would love this to happen because Huffle’s long enigmatic stares create so many questions in my mind.

Malala said: “Thank you to all the students who shared how they would use a magic pencil. The creativity and passion in each entry inspired me. I hope you remember that you don’t need to wait to be an adult — or have a magic pencil — to change the world.”

Lorraine Marshall, English Subject Leader at Our Lady of Muswell School, said: “Everyone here is so pleased that Stella won the competition; she is a brilliant writer and always comes up with unique ideas”

Malala's writing competition

Stella celebrates with her classmates

  • Malala's Magic Pencil

  • ** Shortlisted for the Little Rebels Children's Book Award! **

    As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality. She would use it to give gifts to her family, to erase the smell from the rubbish dump near her house, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. As she grew older, Malala wished for bigger and bigger things. 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.

    This beautifully illustrated picture book tells Malala's story, in her own words, for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed her to hold on to hope and to make her voice heard even in the most difficult of times.

  • Buy the book

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