All the Answers

Finished All the Answers by Kate Messner.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

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…”

When I started reading this, I loved the idea of having a magic pencil that could answer every question you have.  (And when I say “loved,” I mean “desperately wanted one for myself.”)  And then the more I read, the more I saw that it was a double-edged sword.

The pencil obviously couldn’t last forever, and the answers all seem to lead to more questions.  (Also, there are some things the pencil can’t answer—you can’t know about the future, for example, because people have free will.)

It doesn’t take too long for Ava to realize that this thing that’s supposed to make her life easier and better is actually freaking her out.

I loved Ava and her best friend Sophie (but especially Ava, because I too tend to worry about things.) This book would be perfect for middlegrade readers, and I plan to buy a copy for my goddaughter’s birthday.

Highly recommended.

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