Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Kate Banks & illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Pub Date: April 27th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-39920-7
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

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)