The Pencil by Allen Ahlberg. Book Review.

The pictures, the boy, and the style of this book seem to be from the 70s but it was actually published in 2008. It begins with a lonely pencil. He draws a boy who demands a name and a dog. He draws the dog who demands a name and a cat. The demands continue. Conflict begins with characters chasing each other and new ones demanding changes to their appearance. Finally the cat, dog, and boy say they cannot eat their food because it is only black and white. The pencil draws a paintbrush who fills in the color. Together they create more characters and more landscape. The characters complain about their ears, smoking a pipe, and ridiculous sneakers. So the pencil draws an eraser which corrects things. However, like Frankenstein’s monster, the eraser turns on his creator and begins to erase everything and everyone.

The pencil tries various strategies, which fail. He finally saves himself by drawing another eraser. The two erasers fight and destroy each other. The pencil draws another paintbrush and again they create together. The pattern seems to be continuing as the story ends.

I’m not sure why, but this story just didn’t grab me. It seems pointless. The humor was flat and annoying. Is it a warning to be careful what we create in case our creations turn on us? Is it about self-destruction? Is it just supposed to be funny? I don’t know but I think I’ll pick a different pencil from the box, thank you.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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