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The Pencil is an award winning children book by the author Allan Ahlberg, one of the most acclaimed and successful authors of children's books including the best-selling Jolly Postman series, Allan has written nearly 140 titles for children. The Pencil is illustrated by Bruce Ingman winner of the 1996 Mother Goose Award as the most exciting British newcomer to children's picture books. This formidable duo have a created a masterpiece in my opinion. This review may seem a bit bias as both myself and my boys aged 3 and 5 adore this book but I feel it has so many great features to it.
I came across this charming children's picture book when it was been read by Micheal McIntyre on the Cbeebies bedtime hour. I had plonked my boys in front of the TV while I was cleaning up after dinner when suddenly there were cries of mummy, mummy its the funny man off the TV. My eldest knows I love Micheal McIntyre. To my surprise there was my favourite comedian reading this delightful story on the cbeebies bedtime hour. I was totally engrossed, I kept on having to shh my boys as I listen intently to the story. As soon as he finished I rushed onto Amazon to order my copy. I paid £4.49 for my copy but the rrp is £5.99
The story is about a pencil, a lonely little pencil who one day starts to draw. When he begins to draw the characters come to life and interact with the pencil as well as each other. Firstly he creates a boy named Banjo, and some friends for Banjo in the form of a dog named Bruce and a cat named Mildred. He also creates a world for Banjo to live in with a house, a street and a park. All is well for while until the characters start to complain and things begin to go wrong when a rampaging rubber enters the scene, resulting in an exciting climax. Can the courageous pencil save the day? You will have to read for yourself to see. You might wonder how this story could be of any interest but it is the wonderful illustrations that are integral to the book and the key to its charm.
The concept for this book is very clever and not something I have seen before, the story begins which the pencil drawn simply in grey as a pencil would look on the white page, as the story continues the pencil draws the characters in pencil and the world around him. These simple pencil illustrations are suited to the book and story. As you move onto the next page the pencil drawings become more detailed as the story unfolds. Then the pencil creates a new character Kitty the paintbrush and the pencil drawings suddenly become beautiful colourful illustrations filling the whole page. I love how the story and pictures build up together drawing you in to this fascinating new world created by the pencil.
The text of the story lends itself to easy narration in my opinion and you can't help but become a great story teller. It is an easy read with fairly short text on each page but a good use of vocabulary. Sometimes the text is in big bold letters which I assume is meant to be read out louder than the rest. I love the characters in this book, the clever pencil is the hero in the story who creates all these wonderful characters and gets to name them all, even Sebastian the ball. I never thought a simple rubber could become a baddie in a story but it works well. There is lots of humour throughout the book. The story builds up and your hooked and rooting for the pencil to defeat the baddie. There is suspense as you wait to turn each page to discover whats going to happen. This book really is a delight to read and I really recommend it for children over 3.
I can't really think of any flaws to this book, but I some how think it could have done with a more inventive title, although I don't have suggestions.
If you want to see The Pencil been read on the cbeebies bedtime hour it can be viewed through this link.
The details if you want to get yourself a copy are
The Pencil Format: Paperback ISBN: 9781406319552 Published: 07 Sep 2009 Price: £5.99 Size: 240 x 270 mm Pages: 48 age 3+