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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