As a child in Pakistan, human rights activist Malala Yousafzai dreamed of possessing a magic pencil. She could use its powers to lock the door against her brothers and rid the world of poverty. But upon encountering grave problems close to home—soldiers in her village and children unable to attend school—she discovered that a person doesn’t need magic to change the world. An inspiring autobiographical story from the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Malala’s Magic Pencil (Little, Brown, $17.99) shows that courage is its own wizardry. Watercolor illustrations from duo Kerascoët create a powerful sense of atmosphere, and gold overlay designs emphasize Malala’s hopes, emboldening readers to transform their own dreams for a better world into reality. Ages 6-9.
Elwyn Brooks White was a nervous child, but he took solace in a pet mouse, his family’s farm, and the written word. Barbara Herkert’s A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider (Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt, $18.99) follows the life of children’s author, journalist, and essayist E.B. White. Simple, lyrical prose traces White’s journey from a small boy beset with hay fever to a seasoned reporter and columnist who dreamed of adventurous mice. White’s passion for the natural world inspired stories in which small, thoughtful underdogs—rodents, pigs, spiders—were heroes. Lauren Castillo’s warm, adorable illustrations gently draw readers into E.B. White’s world. Ages 7-10.
When the first piloted, untethered hot-air balloon flight in history took place over Paris in 1783, Sophie Blanchard was only five years old. Once the news of this revolutionary voyage reached her small hometown, however, the young girl’s heart was seized with a desire to fly that would change her life forever. Despite her fear of carriage rides and large crowds that limited her movements on land, Blanchard would grow up to become the first female professional aeronaut. Matthew Clark Smith’s poetic biography and Matt Tavares’s illustrations featuring evocative, sweeping skies bring emotion and intimacy to the story of a woman who achieved her dream of becoming Lighter than Air (Candlewick, $16.99). Ages 6-9.