2020 USBBY OUTSTANDING INTERNATIONAL BOOK
"[A] wonderful and touching story" — New York Time Book Review
"A breath of warmth from the far north"— Kirkus Reviews
Susan and her sister, Rebecca, love watching their mother write letters to people in other camps. Their mother has one precious pencil, and she keeps it safe in her box for special things. One afternoon, their mother leaves the iglu to help a neighbour, and Susan, Rebecca, and their brother Peter are left with their father. They play all their regular games but are soon out of things to do—until their father brings out the pencil! As Susan draws and draws, the pencil grows shorter and shorter. What will their mother think when she comes home? Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this charming story introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely.
The Pencil is an incredible look into a life not many people get to see or experience. While the setting of the igloo and the Inuit customs set the story apart and elevate it to something unique, the experience of children being bored, eager to explore their surroundings and especially the things that are ‘’forbidden” to them is very much universal.
The fact that the story is based on the author’s own experiences grounds it and pulls the reader right into the cozy home, making it easy to imagine the sounds, smells and sights of that one afternoon. The illustrations are beautiful, a limited color palette only serving to accentuate the sketch-like quality of the lines that seem to have been drawn by the same pencil that is at the center of the story. A wonderful message about using resources wisely while not letting go of your imagination, The Pencil is a must-read for kids and adults alike.
The Pencil goes beyond a lesson in frugality and becomes a story of family, of play and of culture, which many children will appreciate.
A family-focused story with a light moral that lovingly illuminates a lifestyle rarely seen in children’s books.
Authors Avingaq and Vsetula understand life in Nunavut, Canada, and embed in the story the importance of being responsible for belongings and caring for them wisely...A breath of warmth from the far north.
" [A] rich and moving story about how small things can make a tremendous difference in children’s lives...Avingaq’s childhood is beautifully evoked in this charming story about the need to take care of our belongings."
[A] wonderful and touching story about resilience and thrift and community. The illustrations are appropriately done in pencil, and they are playful and open and beautiful.