Saturday, January 10, 2015

ARC Review: All the Answers by Kate Messner

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Expected Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade
Source: Print ARC

What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking? When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear.

With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer factual questions only – those with definite right or wrong answers – but won’t predict the future. Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava's confidence grows with each answer. But it's getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava's family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers...

An enchantingly fun read about a girl who finds a magical pencil that has all the answers. Ava finds a blue pencil in a junk drawer one day and finds out during a test that when she asks a question, the pencil answers back. That would definitely be a nifty tool to use during a test, especially if you're the type of person who always forgets and freezes up during them. Just like our protagonist, Ava.

Two things to know about the pencil are that the person asking it questions is the only one that can hear it and the pencil can only answer FACTUAL questions. Meaning it can't tell the future and won't be able to answer the questions that involve free will. Ava doesn't keep it a secret for long. She tells her best friend Sophie, who of course wants to use it for personal gain.

I noticed that Ava worried a lot, about everything. The pencil didn't really help any either. We've got her parents, who she thinks may or may not be divorcing, plus her dad's store may go out of business due to a larger store moving in. Ava’s grandmother, who is sick, and her grandfather, a grumpy old man who doesn't want anybody's company after losing his wife. There's just so much stuff that a child should never have to stress about.

I think Ava was endearing though and I liked that she played saxophone. I believe that was a saving grace for her. All the Answers has been a fun ride. Both Ava and Sophie are cute characters and definitely try to use the pencil to their advantage whether it was good or bad. The drama factor to the book wasn't too over the top yet I still felt that some things could have been left out.

Overall, I recommend this to all readers who just want to get away from life. And what better way to do that, than through a magical pencil?

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About the Author:
Kate Messner is an award-winning author, TED 2012 speaker, and former middle school English teacher. Her books for kids include THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.,SUGAR AND ICE, and EYE OF THE STORM (Walker/Bloomsbury Dec. 2010) the MARTY MCGUIRE series (Scholastic), SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Chronicle, Books). Kate also wrote SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE, both Lake Champlain historical novels published by North Country Books.

Kate lives with her family on Lake Champlain, where she loves to read, write, hike, swing on birch trees, and eat chocolate. She also hangs out in various places online.
Visit Kate's website:

Find Kate on Facebook:

...or follow her on Twitter - @katemessner

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