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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Barbara Cooney

Books about Boxes

Boxes have many stories to share, stories to inspire, and stories to help us learn and be creative. Here are a few of the stories that boxes have to tell. You might well expect to find books about creative play and cardboard boxes, but there are books for a range of young readers here and boxes comes in many shapes and colors.

 

365 Penguins

written and illustrated by Jean-Luc Fromental
Holiday House, 2012

A family find a penguin mysteriously delivered in a box to their door every day of the year. At first the penguins are cute, but with every passing day they pile up and they cause the family significant problems. Who on earth is sending these critters? This book holds math concepts and environmental concerns within its story, which is quite fun. Ages 4 to 8.

Beryl's Box

 

Beryl’s Box

written by Lisa Taylor
Barron’s Juveniles, 1993

When Penelope and Beryl must play together at Penelope’s house, Beryl isn’t interested in Penelope’s plentiful toys. She wants to play in a cardboard box, imagining all sorts of adventures. Penelope is intrigued and soon the girls become friends. Ages 3 to 6.

A Box Story  

Box Story

written by Kenneth Kit Lamug
illustrated by Rabble Boy
RabbleBox, 2011

The author and illustrator uses pencil drawings to convey all the ways in which a box is not just a box. Ages 3 to 7.

A Box Can Be Many Things  

A Box Can Be Many Things

written by Dana Meachen Rau
Children’s Press, 1997

An early reader about a box that’s being thrown away and the two kids who rescue it for their own adventures, slowly cutting the box up for the supplies they need, until there isn’t much left of the box. Ages 3 to 6

Boxes for Katje  

Boxes for Katje

written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Stacy Dressen-McQueen
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003

A heartwarming story about a community in Indiana which, upon hearing about Holland’s struggles to find enough food, clothing, and practical items after World War II, sends boxes of supplies to Olst, Holland. Ages 5 to 10.

Cardboard  

Cardboard

written and illustrated by Doug TenNapel
GRAPHIX, 2012

In this graphic novel, Cam’s dad is feeling depressed and there isn’t a lot of money to buy Cam something for his birthday. He gives him a cardboard box and together they work to create a man from the box. It magically comes to life and all is well until the neighborhood bully strives to turn the cardboard man to his evil purposes. Ages 10 and up.

Cardboard Box Book  

Cardboard Box Book

written and created by Roger Priddy and Sarah Powell
illustrated by Barbi Sido
Priddy Books, 2012

If you’re in need of ideas and tips for making your own cardboard creations, or even if you are full of ideas, you’ll be inspired by this book that helps you figure out how to make some amazing but simple cardboard contraptions. All you need is simple household art supplies like a pencil and glue and scissors. And maybe a little paint. Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision).

Cardboard Creatures  

Cardboard Creatures: Contemporary Cardboard Craft Projects for the Home, Celebrations & Gifts

written and created by Claude Jeantet
David & Charles, 2014

What else can you do with cardboard? Sculptures, of course. There are clever animals to make here, designed by an architect who has her own shop in Paris where she sells her intriguing cardboard art. You and your children can make these things, too! Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision)..

Christina Katerina and the Box  

Christina Katerina and the Box

written by Patricia Lee Gauch
illustrated by Doris Burns
Boyds Mills Press, 2012

When Christina Katerina’s family buys a new refrigerator, her mother is excited about the refrigerator but Christina Katerina is excited about the box. She can do all kinds of things with a box, including a castle and a playhouse. Ages 3 to 7.

Harry's Box  

Harry’s Box

written by Angela McAllister
illustrated by Jenny Jones
Bloomsbury, 2005

When Harry and his mom come back from the grocery store, he grabs the box the groceries came in and sets off for adventure with his dog, traveling the high seas, hiding from bears, and everything he can think of before he falls asleep to dream of more! Ages 3 to 7.

Henry's Freedom Box  

Henry’s Freedom Box: a True Story of the Underground Railroad

written by Ellen Levine
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, 2007

This is the true story of Henry Brown, a boy born into slavery who is forcibly separated from his mother to work in his owner’s factory. As a man, his wife and three children are sold away from his life. He makes plans with other abolitionists and mails himself in a box to freedom in Philadelphia. Ages 5 and up.

Meeow and the Big Box  

Meeow and the Big Box

written and illustrated by Sebastien Braun
Boxer Books, 2009

For the preschool set, this book about a cat who creates a fire truck from a box is filled with bright colors and textures, and just enough text to read aloud. There are several more Meeow books. Ages 2 to 4.

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes  

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes

written by Eve Sutton
illustrated by Lynley Dodd
Parent’s Magazine Press, 1974; Puffin, 2010

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-aloud, this dynamic duo tells the story of an ordinary cat who likes to hide in boxes while cats around the world do astounding things. Ages 3 to 7

Not a Box  

Not a Box

written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
HarperCollins, 2006

Narrated by a rabbit, this story of the many possibilities of a box (It’s NOT A BOX! Oops, sorry.) are drawn with a simple line that inspires anything but simple ideas. New York Times Best Illustrated Book. Ages 3 and up.

Roxaboxen  

Roxaboxen

written by Alice McLerran
illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1991

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-Based on a true story from the author’s childhood, the kids in Yuma, Arizona use found objects, but particularly boxes, to create a city where they spend endless hours playing and making up stories and creating memories that will last a lifetime. The book has inspired children around the world. There’s a park in Yuma to commemorate the site of the original Roxaboxen. Ages 4 to 7.

Secret Box  

Secret Box

written and illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2011

There are secret messages hidden in secret boxes to be discovered in secret places … a wordless book provides beautifully crafted images with intricate details that provide much to think and wonder about, ultimately encouraging the reader to create the story. There’s time travel, magic, and puzzles within this book. Good for ages 4 and up.

The Secret Box  

Secret Box

written by Whitaker Ringwald
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2014

When Jax Malone receives a gift in a box for her 12th birthday, she and her friend Ethan soon discover it’s not a gift but a cry for help from an unknown great-aunt. Setting off to solve the mystery of the box and provide the requested help, the kids are soon on a wild, crazy, and dangerous road trip … a fast-paced tale and the beginning of a series of books. (The author’s name is a pseudonym, by the way, a mystery in itself.) Ages 8 to 12.

Sitting in My Box  

Sitting in My Box

written by Dan Lillegard
iilustrated by Jon Agee
Two Lions, 2010

From the safety of a cardboard box, a little boy reads a book about Wild Animals and—behold!—they come to visit him. How many animals can fit in the box? It’s a cumulative story and the wording makes it a good choice for a read-aloud. Ages 2 to 5.

Tibet Through the Red Box  

Tibet Through the Red Box

written and illustrated by Peter Sís
Greenwillow, 1999

When the author was little, his father kept things inside a red box that his children were not allowed to touch. When the author is grown, he receives a letter from his father, telling him the red box is now his. The red, lacquered box holds secrets about his fathere’s experiences in the 1950s when he was drafted into the Czechoslovakian army and sent to China to teach filmmaking. At the time, Czechoslovokia is a secretive country behind the Iron Curtain. The father is soon lost in Tibet for two years, where his adventures must be kept secret but are shared with his son. The book’s illustrations are inspired by Tibetan art. Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Ages 7 and up.

What to Do with a Box  

What To Do With a Box

written by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Chris Sheban
Creative Editions, 2016

What can’t you do with a box? If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure. Read this out loud to your favorite kids and watch the ideas light up their eyes. Ages 4 to 7.

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Two for the Show: How Does Your Garden Grow?

by Phyllis Root and Jacqueline Briggs Martin

It’s high summer in the garden, with an abundance of vegetables to harvest and flowers abuzz with pollinators. Crunchy carrots, leafy kale, sun-warm tomatoes, garlic bulbs, green beans, zucchini (some gigantic) all offer themselves to the gardener. But more grows in a garden than plants. People grow, too, and connections between people take root and blossom. Two lovely picture books about growing things and the people who grow with them are The Gardener by Sarah Stewart with pictures by David Small (Farrar, Strauss, Giroux , 1997) and The Grandad Tree by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Sharon Wilson (Candlewick Press, 2000).

bk_gardner178The Gardener is an epistolary picture book (a category worthy of its own blog post), told in letters from a young girl, Lydia Grace, sent from her home in the country to live in the city with her Uncle Jim during the Depression until “things get better.” She writes first to her Uncle Jim, then back home to Mama, Papa, and Grandma. Although Uncle Jim doesn’t ever smile, Lydia Grace is excited by the window boxes she sees in the city, by learning to bake bread in her uncle’s bakery, and by the store cat Otis who sleeps on her bed.

With help from her family back home who sends her bulbs and seedlings and seed catalogues, from Emma who works in the bakery with her husband Ed, and from neighbors who give her containers in which to plant flowers and call her “the gardener,” Lydia Grace sets about making gardens in pots and filling windows boxes with radishes onions, and lettuce. But what fills her with “great plans” is her discovery at the top of a fire escape of the building’s roof (shown in a wordless spread), littered with trash and just waiting for the dirt she hauls from a vacant lot.

All the while, Lydia hopes for a smile from Uncle Jim.

When her “secret place” is ready, Lydia Grace, Emma, and Ed bring Uncle Jim to the roof garden in a glorious double page wordless spread, which parallels the first view of the roof, now transformed.

A week later, when Lydia Grace learns that her papa has got a job and that she’s going home Uncle Jim closes the shop, sends Ed and Emma and Lydia Grace to the roof garden, and brings Lydia Grace a cake covered in flowers. Lydia Grace writes, “I truly believe that cake equals one thousand smiles.” The last page, also wordless, shows Uncle Jim hugging Lydia Grace as they wait for her to board the train home. In the grim grey city, Lydia Grace has grown more than beautiful flowers and a garden, she has grown a connection with her uncle, Emma, Ed, and the neighbors. As she writes in the P. S. of her last letter, “We gardeners never retire.” In this book, the deepest emotions are not said in words but with flowers, with cake, and with silent hugs. Even the wordless spreads convey the book’s heart—that plants and people can bloom in the grayest surroundings.

bk_grandadtreeLGThe spare poetic words of The Grandad Tree begin,

There is a tree

at the bottom of Leigh’s garden.

An apple tree.

Vin, Leigh’s big brother, said

it started as a seed

and then grew

and grew.

And Vin said

that tree,

where they used to play

with Grandad,

that apple tree

will be there…

forever.

The text goes on to tell how Grandad was a baby once, then a boy who climbed coconut trees near the sea where he lived, then a man and a husband and a dad and a granddad for Leigh and Vin. “That’s life,” Grandad would say.

 The apple tree blossoms in spring as the art shows Vin and Leigh playing ball with Grandad. In summer, as the apples grow, Grandad plays his violin for the children under the tree. He watches them harvest apples as the leaves fall, and he watches from the window as they build a snowman in the winter. The text continues,

And sometimes things die,

like trees,

like people…

            like Grandad.

Leigh and Vin and their momma remember Grandad as Vin plays his violin, and Leigh plants a seed beside the apple tree to grow and grow, to go through changes, and for them to love forever and ever

            just like they’ll always love Grandad.

In few words and glowing illustrations, Cooke and Wilson bring together the seasons of a tree and of a life lived and show how while things change, some things, like Leigh and Vin’s love for Grandad and his for them, will last forever.

Comfort, love, relationships can all bloom along with the wide world of growing things. Even when harvest is upon us gardeners, it’s good to remember that seeds will hold next year’s gardens close inside. Who knows what will blossom there beyond fruits and flowers?

Other books about growing things that we love:

  • Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams
  • Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
  • The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins
  • Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
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Miss-Rumphius-Cover.jpg

The Miss Rumphius Challenge

Henry was a regular. He was in afternoon kindergarten and he and his nanny had the mornings free to come to the storytime I did at the indie bookstores near his home. He was older than most of the other kids—a very wise and erudite six years. His eyes were black and luminous, his curls […]

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