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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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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