A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What's the story?
Dedicated "to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes," NOT A BOX starts even before the actual story begins, as the protagonist bunny drags and pushes his box through the title and dedication pages. After that, each page opposite a drawing of the bunny and his box poses a question, "Why are you sitting in a box?" or "What are you doing on top of that box?" Flip the page, and you see that the bunny isn't just sitting in a box or standing on top of one; he's actually sitting in a race car or standing on top of a snow-capped mountain. With the stretch of his imagination, he transforms something as simple as a cardboard box into an adventurous situation. In the end, he dismisses the voice that's questioning his prop and travels in his box (a.k.a. rocket ship) into space.
Is it any good?
The cute yet simple line-drawn bunny here transforms his box into a portal of exciting scenarios. He's seen driving in a race car, standing on top of a mountain, riding in a hot-air balloon or a rocket. Although the drawings in Not a Box are nothing to write home about, somehow, out of author-illustrator Antoinette Portis' extreme minimalism, we see just how sweet -- and sassy -- the bunny is. We feel his frustration when he has to explain what the box really is at that moment in his play world.
However straightforward the message is, it's hard to dismiss. What makes Not a Box memorable is the way that it doesn't let you lose your creative grip on the importance of imagination -- and the fact that it's not a good idea to squelch anyone else's imagination, either. Just like the bunny, everyone should get the chance to make it to the moon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to turn ordinary household objects into extraordinary ones. What would your box become: A submarine? A school? An airplane? Families can talk to older kids about why the bunny gets frustrated when people don't understand that his box isn't just a regular box.
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