Hello there! Alyx here with another issue of the long-neglected Pencils in Literature series. This time, I wanted to include all of you in my search for pencil appearances in works of literature, and you guys sent so many good ones!
First up, we have two selections of Robin Sloan's beloved Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, sent to us by Katie L. The book follows a scavenger hunt of through history and libraries all over the world. Here's the first one:
And another pencil mention in a secret society library where the characters are looking for more clues:
This beautiful pencil scene comes from a mystery by Brad Meltzer. Here's the protagonist, Nola, receiving a gift:
Erin F. adds that, "the cooler thing is that whenever Nola is stressed, she recites the names of pencil brands to herself as a centering device. Mongol, Fabre, Staedtler, Ticonderoga, Swan .... This recitation happens throughout the book." How cool is that?
I'm so happy that Sara Q. sent in a passage from childhood favorite The Borrowers:
Do you remember this book? I loved it when I was a kid! Sara also shared the inscription she found inside the book, "Happy Birthday Sara love Aunt Julie 1995." I love re-discovering little messages in books, both in books that were given to me, and also in used books, dedicated to a stranger.
Iris P. sent us another blast from the past! She found four references to pencils in the Baby-Sitters Club books:
(How good are the outfits on those covers? I still remember the part in Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls when Claudia draws a self-portrait with the special box of crayons her grandmother gives her. She draws a butterfly and gets in trouble because it's supposed to be a self-portrait, but her grandmother encourages her by understanding that the butterfly IS a self-portrait.)
Paige E. found a pencil reference in this beautiful passage in The English Patient:
I love the detail of the "favorite cat," like she has a sea of cats, but only one favorite.
Childhood classics seemed like a popular source of pencil inspiration this week. I loved this one too! Katherine K. sent in this part of The Phantom Tollbooth:
Magic staff! Every time I pick up a pencil now, I'm going to believe that it has magical properties. Which, in a way, is true.
And finally, from Judy W., we have this pencil-famous passage from John Steinbeck's Art of Fiction interview in the Fall, 1969 issue of The Paris Review:
Every Blackwing enthusiast knows the pencil's most famous advocate, and it's nice to revisit this discussion every once in a while. As a writer, I'm relieved to know that the greats also populate their writing process with countless tiny rituals. It's not procrastination, it's art.
I also received a couple of non-book submissions, like this charming deflection by Walt Disney:
"People still think of me as a cartoonist, but the only thing I lift a pen or pencil for these days is to sign a contract, a check, or an autograph."
And of course this perennial favorite from Joe Fox of You've Got Mail:
"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms."
Thanks for reading along with me this week! I had a ton of fun reading all your submissions. I hope you enjoyed seeing these book-famous pencils, too!