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THE PENCIL by Susan Avingaq


by Susan Avingaq & Maren Vsetula ; illustrated by Charlene Chua

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-77227-216-1
Publisher: Inhabit Media

When their mother leaves to help a neighbor, siblings Susan, Rebecca, and Peter are surprised when their father opens his wife’s wooden box of special things.

With Anaana gone from their iglu, the children play all their usual games: a jumping contest, blindfolded hide-and-seek, drawing on the ice window, and playing with the dolls their grandmother has made for them, but soon all three become bored. However, Ataata surprises them by opening Anaana’s wooden box and taking out her pencil! He hands it and a piece of paper to Susan, the oldest and narrator, so she can draw. Soon, the other children each have a turn with the pencil, but with the paper full, they draw on the back of an empty tea box. Ataata must sharpen the pencil with his knife, making the pencil much smaller; Susan wonders what will happen when Anaana returns. 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 helpful glossary of the Inuktitut words (italicized on first reference within the story) is included in the backmatter. Chua depicts a close, loving Inuit family dressed in furs; a traditional ulu and seal-oil lamp can be seen along with a European kettle in the cozy interior.

A breath of warmth from the far north.

(Picture book. 5-7)