The Eraserheads

Overview

4 + 3 = 8?

Whoops! That’s not right.

Looks like a job for the eraserheads!

The three eraserheads—an owl, a crocodile, and a pig—live atop three pencils in the land of paper, rulers, letters, and numbers. Their job is to help a little boy correct his mistakes. But one day they make a mistake of their own—and what happens next is something nobody expected.

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Overview

4 + 3 = 8?

Whoops! That’s not right.

Looks like a job for the eraserheads!

The three eraserheads—an owl, a crocodile, and a pig—live atop three pencils in the land of paper, rulers, letters, and numbers. Their job is to help a little boy correct his mistakes. But one day they make a mistake of their own—and what happens next is something nobody expected.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Banks folds reassuring messages about mistakes into this inventively illustrated title” —Booklist

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

"This complex tale will intrigue those adventurers ready for a Jumanji-like experience of jumping into the arduous but rewarding creative process of persevering through mistakes." —School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Three eraserheads atop pencils—an owl, a crocodile, and a pig—live with a boy amid other pencils, papers, rulers, and more. When the boy makes a mistake with numbers, the crocodile races to erase it. The owl deals with errors in letters and words. The pig erases anything but fears large creatures. One day, as they watch the boy draw a beach scene, they follow a road. The crocodile erases it, and they are lost. Suddenly a wave sweeps them to a desert island. There the boy begins to draw wild animals, and then crumples the paper, leaving the eraserheads stranded there. The crocodile cleverly erases enough of a snake to make an SOS. The boy then returns to fix it all. Kulikov's visual fantasy exploits different distinct styles: the eraserheads are created as small sculptures, toy-like in design but lively and comic n their actions. The boy's colored pencil drawings are appropriate for his age, a mixture of crude realism and more imaginative objects. The front end pages, as he invites readers into the open door that he closes on the back end pages, provide a collection of his works. The appealing double-page scenes are intriguing and inventive. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—What a boy imagines while drawing is chronicled through a dialogue with an owl, a pig, and a crocodile, eraser creatures that live atop his colored pencils. The owl is good with words and backward letters. The pig erases everything except animals drawn larger than him. The crocodile is in charge of numbers. When the boy runs out of room after drawing a landscape, the crocodile goes too far, erasing and erasing until the trio lands in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly a wave sweeps the fearful friends onto a desert island, and they are chased by wild animals. The boy crumples and abandons his work, leaving the eraserheads stuck unless they can figure a way to inspire him to persevere and transform the scene into something else. Kulikov, a master of mixed-media illustrations, effectively uses two contrasting tones to create distinct, but juxtaposed worlds: the boy and his eraserheads are layered and densely rendered, while the child's artwork and the background images are lightly sketched and hatched with a watercolor base. This complex tale will intrigue those adventurers ready for a Jumanji-like experience of jumping into the arduous but rewarding creative process of persevering through mistakes.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374399207
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 574,985
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

In addition to The Eraserheads, Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov have also collaborated on Max’s Words, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and its sequel, Max’s Dragon. Kate Banks lives in the South of France and Boris Kulikov lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Reading Group Guide

OOPS! 

A Note from Author Kate Banks on Making Mistakes

It’s no big secret—we all do it. I wrote The Eraserheads because I hoped to remove some of the stigma attached to making mistakes. I grew up in a house where mistakes, unless they were monumental, weren’t punished. If I made a mistake my Dad would say, “Good, there’s a chance to learn something.” But when I went to school mistakes were often handled differently, with punishments that didn’t fit the crime—reprimands, or low grades. Although these measures were designed to discourage further error, I suspect they kept many children from trying again.  

I think most people would agree that some of the hardest and best lessons we learn are from mistakes. But if children can’t learn to forgive themselves for small mistakes I think it’s going to be very difficult to forgive others for big ones. And personally I think that’s one of the greatest mistakes anyone can make.

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