Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE PENCIL by Allan Ahlberg


by Allan Ahlberg & illustrated by Bruce Ingman

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3894-8
Publisher: Candlewick

In this distant cousin to Harold and the Purple Crayon, a pencil draws a smiling boy (previously met in Ahlberg and Ingman’s Runaway Dinner, 2006) and names him “Banjo.” At Banjo’s behest the pencil adds and names a family, pets, an entire world and a paintbrush to color it all in. When some of the figures start complaining about their details, the pencil obligingly creates a rubber eraser—which turns out to be a mistake, as the eraser proceeds to “rub out” everything and everyone. Sensitive readers may find this part slightly disturbing, but it does create plenty of suspense. Just when entropy looks assured of a win, the fleeing pencil turns on a last, blank page and draws a second eraser—and then, after the two rub each other out, proceeds to remake all that had been lost. Cosmic overtones, anyone? Like its classic antecedent, this may not only inspire some creative world-building in budding artists, it also gives the relationship between story and audience an additional interactive aspect. (Picture book. 6-9)