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THE ERASERHEADS

Banks imbues three pencil erasers—a pig, a crocodile and an owl—with earnest personalities and important jobs to do for an artistic boy, who is never named. The critters correct math errors, check vocabulary and interact within the boy’s elaborately rendered tableaux. When a sketched road disappears, the croc reacts by over-erasing—and quickly, they’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. The premise—we learn from mistakes—is nearly submerged by author and artist. Menaced by an island’s wild animals, the erasers are suddenly stranded when the boy crumples his drawing and leaves in irritation. Crocodile redeems himself by erasing bits of a snake till there’s an “SOS” for the boy. Smoothing out his drawing, he rescues the trio by adding a boat and a sign reading “Beach.” The complex story line doesn’t always cohere—the setup for the stranding seems too random for primary children. Kulikov delivers a dizzying visual stew that includes everything from the boy’s penciled and crayoned drawings, the erasers’ shiny opacity, a Sendakian Wild Thing and a big frothy wave evocative of Hiroshige. A bit gimmicky but nonetheless engrossing. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-374-39920-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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WHERE DO FROGS COME FROM?

The lifecycle of the frog is succinctly summarized in this easy reader for children reading at the late first-grade level. In just one or two sentences per page, Vern details the amazing metamorphosis of the frog from egg to tadpole to adult, even injecting a little humor despite the tight word count. (“Watch out fly! Mmmm!) Large, full-color photographs on white backgrounds clearly illustrate each phase of development. Without any mention of laying eggs or fertilization, the title might be a bit misleading, but the development from black dot egg to full-grown frog is fascinating. A simple chart of the three main lifecycle steps is also included. Lifecycles are part of the standard curriculum in the early elementary grades, and this will be a welcome addition to school and public libraries, both for its informational value and as an easy reader. (Nonfiction/easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216304-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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