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|All the answers|
Author: Messner, Kate
Twelve-year-old Ava finds an old pencil in her family's junk drawer and discovers, during a math test, that it will answer factual questions, so she and her best friend Sophie have a great time--and Ava grows in self-confidence--until the pencil reveals a truth about her family that Ava would rather not know.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 172482
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 21729
Kirkus Reviews (11/15/14)
School Library Journal (03/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (05/15)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2014 Ava Anderson is a 12-year-old with a lot to worry about. She could get killed on an upcoming school field trip; she might play her saxophone so poorly at middle-school band tryouts that she is laughed out of the room; and although her parents say they are in love, what if they get divorced? When Ava grabs a random blue pencil out of the junk drawer on her way to school, she discovers during a math test that it will tell her the answers to her questions, depending on how those questions are asked. The pencil, however, will only answer factual questions, and Ava soon learns that a little bit of knowledge with no context can lead to disaster. Along the way, Ava learns lessons about coping and bravery that should resonate with middle-grade readers struggling with their own anxieties. Although Ava is constantly worried, the novel’s tone remains bright and cheerful. Yes, there’s a magical pencil, but this remains an emotionally resonant portrait of a sweet girl whose struggles are firmly rooted in reality. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 03/01/2015 Gr 4–6—Middle schooler Ava always seems to be nervous about something: her math quiz, an upcoming field trip to an adventure park, the possibility of her parents divorcing. When she uses an old blue pencil found in a junk drawer to write a question in the margin of her math quiz, a voice that only she can hear tells her the correct answer. It turns out that the pencil can answer factual questions of all kinds, from what people think and feel queries about schoolwork. Ava and her friend Sophie use the magical power of the pencil to try to help the elderly people in Ava's grandpa's old age home and in the process make discoveries about her grandpa's thoughts and wishes. So far so good, but when Ava discovers through the pencil that her mother has breast cancer and that her mother is about to postpone her mammogram so that she can accompany Ava on her adventure park trip, Ava finds herself having to call on all her inner resources to ensure that her mother goes for her test. In the process, she surprises herself at what she is able to do. When Ava realizes that the magic pencil is inhabited by a piece of her long-dead grandmother's spirit, she helps to make her grandfather's last moments happier. Ava is a sympathetic and well-rounded character, and the relationship, conflicts included, between her and the more outgoing Sophie rings true. The writing is smooth and the dialogue believable. VERDICT Firmly planted in realistic fiction with a single fantastical element, this story will appeal to Wendy Mass fans as well as those who love Messner's previous novels.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2015 Ava Anderson worries: about math tests, which always trip her up; about her grandma, who has been napping a lot lately; and about her parents, who have very different ideas about politics. She is also anxious about jazz band tryouts and the upcoming class field trip to an adventure course and her grandfather who is in a nursing home. In short, she worries about almost everything. When she learns that an innocuous-looking pencil she finds in the kitchen junk drawer will answer any factual questions she poses, having all the answers seems pretty appealing; that is, until it tells her more than she should-or even truly wants to-know. Messner gets the mind of a mildly anxious kid right: Ava has obviously had guidance in handling her worrywart tendencies, demonstrating coping techniques that ultimately allow her reason to trump her fears. She also has remarkable but believable insight into the merits and traps of what the pencil offers, and her reflection process and ultimate course of action ring true, as does her relationship with her BFF, Sophie, as they tackle the road bumps the pencil inserts in their friendship. Messner’s subtle indications of Ava’s biracial heritage paint a broader picture of her life without defining her, her family, or the book; family dynamics walk a line between sweet and saccharine (her younger sister’s precociousness lands firmly in the twee), but readers will enjoy knowing that anxious Ava is clearly safe and loved. The lesson here-not only about the values of not knowing, but about managing oneself in the face of uncertainty-will resonate and, hopefully, inspire. AA - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.