Review: All the Answers by Kate Messner

all the answers by kate messner

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…

Description taken from Goodreads.


Kids these days always fantasize, at least once, about a magical pencil or a homework machine or something that makes their day to day school lives a little bit easier, and no one can really blame them. This story shows just how amazing it would be to have a pencil like that, and how much responsibility it would take.

Not gonna lie, one of the things I felt badly about in this story was how preachy it sounded. Especially for kids who already get enough of it in their own lives, I felt like this story was very uptight. Just when I was really getting into it, I felt like someone was chastising me for something. There are all kinds of lessons assorted through this book. Some stand out more than others, but I really wished that was the one theme that wasn’t in here. It just didn’t fit.

Otherwise, I just wanted more and more! There’s a lot to focus on in ALL THE ANSWERS, maybe even too much, but I enjoyed every aspect of it and everything that went on in it. The characters are all individual, with no one feeling too much like another as well. I wasn’t a fan of everyone, but I didn’t have any issues keeping them separated in my mind. The pacing seems to move really quickly and Messner writes in a way that is both appealing and easy to understand. I would recommend this book especially to girls 10 – 12. 3.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 256

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