cover image The Eraserheads

The Eraserheads

Kate Banks, , illus. by Boris Kulikov. . FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39920-7

Banks and Kulikov's (Max's Words ) latest collaboration stars three plucky pencil-top erasers—a green crocodile, blue owl, and pink pig—who work conscientiously to erase the mistakes of their owner, a dark-haired schoolboy. When they find themselves stranded on the surface of one of the boy's drawings, they realize that they can save themselves from various dangers by strategic erasing (the pig is too scared to erase some scary tiger fangs, so the owl does it; “my head is sore,” he remarks afterward). Kulikov combines loving attention to detail—it's possible to read the labels on the pencils and count the hairs on the paintbrushes—with beguiling portraits of the erasers in various attitudes of dismay and distress. In the story's dueling realities, the “real life” sections of the spreads feature three-dimensional figures, while the boy's drawings are done in gawky crayon. Once the erasers learn to control their surroundings, trepidation turns into triumph. It's a fruitful exploration of the important role of error: “Hooray for mistakes,” the owl says, as the crocodile agrees that without them, “There'd be nothing to learn.” Ages 4–8. (Apr.)