What if your pencil had all the answers? Seems like a dream come true for any middle-school aged student, and one that on the face of things, appears pretty harmless. In this new release, Kate Messner uses that question as a character in this story.
All the Answers
Ava is in need of a pencil for a maths test, and grabs an old ratty blue pencil from the junk drawer. Now no longer focused on worrying about not having the pencil, Ava turns her worries to answering the questions. Somehow, she always seems to miss questions, no matter how hard she studies. But, with the blue pencil, things are different: she reads a question and hears a voice giving her the answer!
And it happens ALL THROUGH the test. Thinking that it was a fluke, she tells her best friend Sophie, and they try to see just what the pencil’s limits really are. Soon they discover that only the person holding the pencil can hear the voice, but it doesn’t seem to not have an answer for anything they ask it.
The girls soon decide to focus on helping people: parents, friends, grandparents and even other residents at Ava’s grandfather’s retirement home. Dealing with real issues and worries that will be familiar to readers: friend’s squabbles, health, parental arguments, aging grandparents, school stress, fitting in: all at least passingly familiar to kids. What the girls soon learn though is that it’s not always great to have ALL the answers, and sometimes you can obsess and worry far too much over things that are inevitable, rather than enjoying the moments.
Realistically developed, Ava and Sophie and their interactions are solid and feel real and honest, with family interactions, squabbles and triumphs also carrying a feel of familiarity. The idea of a pencil with ALL the Answers is much more than test taking, with clever twists and insights Messner creates a story that is really about choices and learning from decisions, communicating with your friends and family and finding a way to work through difficult challenges. With laughter, tears, twists and some serious aha moments, this is a story sure to be a favorite of many.
Title: All the Answers
Author: Kate Messner
Genre: Children's Literature
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing
Published on: 27 January, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking? When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear.
With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer factual questions only – those with definite right or wrong answers – but won’t predict the future. Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava's confidence grows with each answer. But it's getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava's family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers...
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.