Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Written by Allan Ahlberg

Illustrated by Bruce Ingman

(Candlewick Press, 2008)

Drawing instruments have been book stars of late.  I recently reviewed The Obstinate Pen and now a pencil, a paintbrush and two erasers have prominent roles in The Pencil.  At the outset, a pencil rests on a blank page before discovering its ability to draw squiggles, then objects.  First, a boy.  The boys wants the pencil to draw a dog and the dog, in turn, wants a cat which leads to a predictable chase through areas that the pencil quickly draws.  Each new creation asks the pencil for a name.  The boy becomes Banjo, the dog, Bruce.  There is Mildred the cat and Kitty the paintbrush.  But there be limits to all this naming.  After the pencil draws a ball, this text follows:

“What’s my name?” said the ball.

“Don’t be silly,” said the pencil.

The ball then made a sad face.

“All right, then…Sebastian,” said the pencil.

As everyone knows, sad-faced balls always get their way.  Perhaps only the pencil will go unnamed.

The characters soon want color.  Enter the paintbrush.  All is glorious until an exuberant eraser emerges, threatening to obliterate all that has been created.

This is a quick-paced story, told in succinct sentences that create a rhythm that allows the reader to focus more on the ongoing changes in the illustrations.  Pencil and paintbrush earn a well deserved break by book’s end, at which time the reader will be only too happy to take a blank paper and a few art tools to create his own drawing adventure. 

This is a clever picture book that will captivate an elementary school audience.  To put it in corny terms, readers will be drawn to it.  [Insert groan here…but don’t let my lame humor dissuade you from tracking down this title.]


  1. Gregory,
    I'm going to insert a few of my boys favorite books here, since you asked for it on a tweet.

    My boys never stop reading The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. They also like Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series and anything by Gary Paulsen. I'm always looking for more, though, so I thank you for this blog!

    Denise Krebs

  2. Sea Cutter by Timothy Davis is a fantastic boys read as well as Ben S. Woodard's The Boy Who Flew With Eagles.

  3. Thanks for the book recommendations! I finally fully read my first Wimpy Kid this summer. I'll track down the other titles. No doubt, others will also appreciate the suggestions.

    Feel free to use the Comments section at any time to add newly discovered books that you think will appeal to boys.