Amato’s debut features two writing tools with opposing dispositions: a yellow pencil and a pink, stand-alone eraser.
One likes to make marks; the other delights in eradication. Can this end well? Clean, white backgrounds set the stage for opening strokes and smudges easily removed. The eraser exhibits confidence, but the writing implement picks up speed, creating—in rapid succession—an impudent caricature of its nemesis, a cyclone, an army of menacing pencils, and a forest that becomes so thick it’s essentially solid black. Stumped, the eraser eventually swipes at the darkness. Although the attempts leave residual texture, the effect is pleasing. A sun created by erasing leads to a galaxy, and the neatnik eraser directs a newly hewn rocket onto a fresh page, exclaiming, “Eat my dust!” Soon, however, the devilish drawer is at it again. The eraser’s response—rubbed-away letters forming the book’s title—reveals that this strategy brings peace with the duo’s differences (and that their interactions are actually enjoyed). Employing a controlled palette for the digitally manipulated photographs and hand drawings, Amato maintains interest by animating a few deft lines into ever changing facial expressions and by varying the page designs from panels to full spreads. Surprisingly, the pencil doesn’t have any lines to speak; the eraser does all the talking, albeit in brief comments.
Children will be amused by the relationship and intrigued with the technique, comprehending that one can draw with a pencil and an eraser—and that opposites can co-exist. (Picture book. 3-9)