She put her hand on the edge of the polished desk liking the way it felt. She looked at the neat row of freshly-sharpened pencils, the clean green square of blotter, the fat white jar of creamy paste, the precise stack of cards and the returned books waiting to be put back on the shelves. The remarkable pencil with the date slug above its point was by itself near the blotter's edge.

The above paragraph is from "A tree grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith.

My question is the last sentence that I simply can't understand. The protagonist, Francie (11-year old girl), is describing things on the desk of the librarian.

My question is:

  1. the remarkable is to be understood 're-markable' ?
  2. date slug: Is it a kind of date stamp?
  3. Thus, the remarkable pencil is located just above its sharpened point, which is nearby blotter's edge?

I really don't know

It is a very good novel, but I find some of her sentences are very difficult to decipher.

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


The 'date slug' would be an attachment on the pencil, just above its point, for holding rubber date stamps that can be changed every day. A person holding the pencil can tilt it so as to stamp the due date on the book label. The pencil is lying on or near the blotter.

Presumably such a pencil would seem unusual to an 11-year-old and therefore 'remarkable'.

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