All The Answers
By Kate MessmerBlurb: 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...
Genres: Juvenile Fantasy
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
My Rating: 3 stars
This was a cute little story about a girl whose pencil starts giving her answers to questions she has. Cute, but not much more than that. There were some issues that I had with the story; especially the explanation given at the end to this whole thing.
Ava is a character that I didn't like or dislike. She tended to worry too much about things; while she told Ava they should put a limit on the questions they asked the pencil, she tended to ask a lot of questions herself, and a lot of those questions could have been lumped together to avoid wasting the lead. However, I did like that her voice didn't seem too childish; I thought the author made her sound her age.
Her friend Sophie was just terrible. She was not too bright in the first place; if you find a magic pencil that answers all of life's questions, best not to advertise it to your whole class. And why blame Ava for your boy troubles when it was kind of your fault in the first place? I didn't like her at all.
The plot was definitely unique; I don't think I've ever read anything about all-knowing pencils before. I would have asked the pencil some better things; if it answers all factual questions, wouldn't that mean that it would answer questions like, "What is the cure for cancer," and things a lot less trivial then which boy likes you? But, hey, this is a middle grade book. So I'll let it pass.
I'm not really sure that the explanation given for why the pencil speaks makes much sense. I guess maybe I was looking for more of a scientific-sounding reason--something that could make me suspend disbelief and say, "okay, that's not possible but it sounds like it could be," (kind of like Things Not Seen) but what we got was a very strange and baffling answer. I don't know if I liked it all that much.
This wasn't one of my favorite books, but I think it will appeal to younger readers. It has a hint of whimsicality combined with realistic life, and the plot is fun. There's a few plot holes for older readers, though.