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The Pencil

by (author) Susan Avingaq & Maren Vsetula

illustrated by Charlene Chua

Inhabit Media
Initial publish date
Aug 2022
Native Canadian, Humorous Stories, New Experience, Polar Regions
Indigenous characters , Set in Nunavut
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

Library Ordering Options



"[A] wonderful and touching story" — New York Time Book Review

"A breath of warmth from the far north"— Kirkus Reviews

Susan and her sister, Rebecca, love watching their mother write letters to people in other camps. Their mother has one precious pencil, and she keeps it safe in her box for special things. One afternoon, their mother leaves the iglu to help a neighbour, and Susan, Rebecca, and their brother Peter are left with their father. They play all their regular games but are soon out of things to do—until their father brings out the pencil! As Susan draws and draws, the pencil grows shorter and shorter. What will their mother think when she comes home? Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this charming story introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely.

About the authors

Susan Avingaq est née dans la toundra et est déménagée dans le village d’Igloolik au Nunavut au milieu des années 1970. Elle adore aller camper et pêcher chaque fois qu’elle le peut. Elle amène souvent de nouvelles personnes avec elle pour leur enseigner ces compétences de la terre. Elle aime beaucoup coudre et apprendre aux jeunes les pratiques culturelles traditionnelles. C’est une personne pleine de ressources et elle croit que ces pratiques sont d’importantes aptitudes à transmettre à la jeune génération. Elle compte plusieurs petits-enfants avec qui elle aime partager ses histoires.


Susan Avingaq's profile page

Maren Vsetula est enseignante et rédactrice de matériel éducatif pour le compte d’Inhabit Média. Elle veut toujours passer le plus de temps possible dans la toundra à se promener, pêcher, pagayer et faire du traineau à chiens. Elle a vécu et travaillé au Nunavut pendant plus d’une décennie.


Maren Vsetula's profile page


CHARLENE CHUA a illustré de nombreux livres pour les enfants de tous les âges. Ses illustrations lui ont valu de nombreuses récompenses et les livres qu’elle a illustrés ont été mis en nomination pour USBBY Outstanding International Books, OLA Best Bets, une récompense Shining Willow, et Kirkus Best books. Son premier livre Hug? a été publié en 2020. Elle vit à Hamilton avec son époux.


CHARLENE CHUA has illustrated more than a dozen books, including Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, The Pencil, and Hug?, and her work has been nominated for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, the Forest of Reading Awards, the Shining Willow Award, and the First Nation Communities READ Award. Charlene lives in Hamilton, Ontario.



Charlene Chua's profile page


  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
  • Short-listed, USBBY Outstanding International Book

Editorial Reviews

" [A] rich and moving story about how small things can make a tremendous difference in children’s lives...Avingaq’s childhood is beautifully evoked in this charming story about the need to take care of our belongings."

The Globe and Mail

"Authors Avingaq and Vsetula understand life in Nunavut, Canada, and embed in the story the importance of being responsible for belongings and caring for them wisely...A breath of warmth from the far north."

Kirkus Reviews

"The Pencil goes beyond a lesson in frugality and becomes a story of family, of play and of culture, which many children will appreciate."

CanLit for Little Canadians

"The Pencil is an incredible look into a life not many people get to see or experience...a must-read for kids and adults alike. Highly Recommended."

CM Magazine

"A family-focused story with a light moral that lovingly illuminates a lifestyle rarely seen in children’s books."

School Library Journal

"[A] wonderful and touching story about resilience and thrift and community. The illustrations are appropriately done in pencil, and they are playful and open and beautiful."

The New York Times Book Review