Malik and the Magic Bowtie: A positive lesson on self-assurance for today’s youth
– Book Review –
By MADISON MICHELLE WILLIAMS
The Dallas Examiner
Malik and the Magic Bowtie is a children’s book that follows the story of a young man on his journey to self-righteousness and takes a look into the importance of positive imagery within the Black community.
In the storyline, Malik is determined to write the winning speech for his race to win class president. He eventually grows discouraged and begins to doubt himself and his ability.
“I’ve been trying to secure votes. I’ve done everything I could, and they still don’t like me,” said a defeated Malik.
With some words of encouragement and the gift of a magical heirloom, Malik’s father helped him understand the importance of confidence and a good night’s sleep.
The story makes great strides in Black male representation in media, which gives young audiences something positive to look up to.
A look into the author, Ray Young Jr, and his first book, he shares a story much different than the reality of his upbringing. Originally from Waco, Young was brought up in a single parent home where he faced homelessness, juvenile detention and loss of education when he dropped out of school in the 10th grade.
As a result, he experienced a lack of hope and little opportunity for members of the community to rise above the stereotype.
This sparked his inspiration to pursue his dreams and continue his education. Young is now a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. He has founded two youth-centered organizations. He plans to further his education at the doctorate level. Young has also founded two youth-centered organizations as a way to give back to his community: his personal brand MYGO – meaning My Greatness Overcomes – and Young’s Vision Achievement Consulting where he does coaching, workshops, intervention and more. He founded the organization to have creative freedom over his approach to positively influence the youth with which he works.
Much of Young’s personal testimony was used as inspiration for writing the story of Malik and his bowtie. The importance of Black fatherhood is just as important in this story as it is in Young’s personal life. He even decided to name the charming main character after his 6-year-old son.
It is a great story that serves to empower not only children, but adults as well. The reader will recognize the many themes throughout the book such as credence and the power of positive thinking.
“They might laugh, but you shouldn’t care what they think,” Malik’s dad said.
This is such an important narrative to be shared with our youth as they navigate the ever-so-changing society. The narrative is that much more meaningful coming from a Black father figure.
“We always get these stereotypes that the father isn’t present so that’s one thing I wanted to highlight in the book” said Young.
Pointing out what lead to his decision of publishing a children’s book was that there aren’t too many Black male authors writing children’s books.
“Another reason was to put out images that look like us. It brings an interest to literacy for young Black children when they see themselves in what they’re reading,” he said.
The book shares lessons that we could all use. Young, and his illustrator, Tyrus Goshay, wanted to emphasize the idea of the magical bowtie to get young people excited to read the story. Young chose Goshay after recognizing a few of his illustrations in other children’s books. Together, they created something that all readers can enjoy, young and old.
The book is available on Amazon.com. To learn more about the work Young is doing in the community, visit www.yvaconsulting.com.