The Pencil

Inhabit Media. Sept. 2019. 36p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781772272161.
PreS-Gr 2–An Inuit elder shares a memory of her childhood in this appealing picture book. One day, when Anaana (mother) has to help deliver a neighbor’s baby, children Susan, Rebecca, and Peter must entertain themselves. Ataata (father) tells stories, they play games, and they practice writing on the icy window. Then Ataata surprises them by bringing out one of Anaana’s prized possessions—a tiny, well-worn pencil, used for writing letters on bags, wrappers, and sometimes, on precious pieces of paper. He encourages them to write and draw, offering up a single sheet of unmarked paper. All day, Susan and her siblings marvel as their drawings materialize on the page. When Anaana returns, her initial hesitation at seeing the pencil smaller than before is tempered by the joy her children have in sharing their drawings with her. While she reminds them all how important it is to use the few resources that they have wisely, she also affirms the value of what they created. Avingaq’s memories of an affectionate, close-knit family are perfectly captured by Chua’s expressive cartoon illustrations.
VERDICT A family-focused story with a light moral that lovingly illuminates a lifestyle rarely seen in children’s books. A solid purchase for larger collections.

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