If you found a magical pencil that could answer all your questions, what would you ask? Sorry, I should warn you that it can’t tell the future, so you can’t use it to win the lottery or make sure you bring your own lunch on the days your cafeteria decides to serve meatloaf…
In All the Answers by Kate Messner, Ava finds the pencil and realizes its power when she’s taking a math test. After that, she tries not to rely on the pencil during exams, but she does use it to find out what her favorite pop star is doing. Her best friend, Sophie, asks the pencil who has a crush on her. The pencil also reveals a classmate’s embarrassing middle name.
Then, the questions get bigger. Ava and Sophie realize they can use the pencil to help the residents who live with Ava’s grandfather at the nearby senior home. All they need to do is ask the pencil what the residents want and then bring them the perfect gifts. Looks like the pencil can create a better world!
But Ava is a worrier. She’s always expecting the absolute worst case scenario to happen, and she tries to avoid any situation with even minor risk. Her mind is always full of concerns like: Do the other kids at school dislike her? Will her parents divorce? Is her grandma dying? When Ava starts asking the pencil about all the bad things she imagines, it turns out some of her worrying may be valid after all. Now what?
If I were a magical pencil, I’d tell you! But I am not, so you’re out of luck; you’ll just have to read the book. Although actually, that doesn’t make you unlucky at all. We’re all pretty lucky that this book exists and we get to read Ava’s story — which is funny, sad, and inspiring. I’d even say it’s realistic because yes, it involves a magical pencil, but also Ava and her classmates are relatable.
Leave me a comment if you’ve read this book, or just answer my original question: What would YOU ask this pencil if you found it in your hand?
Karen would probably turn it into a mind-reading pencil and constantly ask it what other people are thinking.
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