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Not a Box Hardcover – December 12, 2006

171 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 1—In bold, unornamented line drawings of a rabbit and a box, the author-illustrator offers a paean to the time-honored imaginative play of young children who can turn a cardboard box into whatever their creativity can conjure. Through a series of paired questions and answers, the rabbit is queried about why he is sitting in, standing on, spraying, or wearing a box. Each time, he insists, "It's not a box!" and the opposite page reveals the many things a small child's pretending can make of one: a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a robot. One important caveat: the younger end of the intended audience is both literal and concrete in their approach to this material. The box itself, drawn as a one-dimensional rectangle, will be perceived by preschoolers to be flat and not readily understood as three-dimensional. Furthermore, those children are likely to interpret the "box's" transformation to be "magic," while five- and six-year-olds are able to make the cognitive conversion from flat rectangle to three-dimensional box and to understand that the transformation has been made by the rabbit's own imagination. Both audiences will enjoy the participatory aspect of identifying each of the rabbit's new inventions. Knowledgeable adults will bring along a large box to aid in understanding and to encourage even more ideas and play.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Wrapped in basic, grocery-bag-brown paper, this streamlined book visualizes a child's imagined games. "Why are you sitting in a box?" reads the opening page, opposite an image of a small rabbit, drawn in the simplest, unshaded lines, who appears next to a square. "It's not a box," reads the text, presumably in the rabbit's defiant voice, on the next page, and equally simple red lines overlay the black-lined rabbit and box to show a speeding roadster. In the following spreads, the questioner (a clueless adult?) continues to ask about the rabbit's plans, while the little voice answers with the book's protest of a title. This owes a large debt to Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955). And as in Johnson's classic, the spare, streamlined design and the visual messages about imagination's power will easily draw young children, who will recognize their own flights of fantasy. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (December 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061123226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061123221
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Herold on December 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Pay attention, folks! Are you looking for the perfect book for a preschool child this holiday season? Then I've got the book for you: Antoinette Portis' "Not A Box."

Every so often you run across a book that screams "instant classic." "Not A Box" is that book for me this year.

As you can tell from the cover, "Not A Box" features simple, iconic line drawings of a rabbit and a box. Portis dedicates the book "to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes" and celebrates the magic a large box brings to a child.

The book opens with a question: "Why are you sitting in a box?" The young rabbit replies, offended, "it's not a box." And the illustration shows him sitting in a racecar. And, so on. Rabbit climbs a mountain, fights a fire, wears a robot costume. His box is anything, but "it's NOT NOT NOT NOT a box!"

What it is, though, is highly, highly, highly, highly recommended.
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85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Recently there was an article in Publisher's Weekly describing the recent downturn in picture book sales and what publishing companies were going to do to combat this trend. Possible solutions that were mentioned included making picture books as sparkly, glittery, and full of eye-catching razzle dazzle-ish as possible. No mention was made of whether the stories matching these bombastic visual monstrosities would be any good. So after hearing a story like this it does my withered little heart good to know that there is still room out there for a book like, "Not a Box". "Not a Box" is not flashy. It doesn't seduce the child's visual senses with tacky holographic papered stimuli. Drawn with meticulous care and simple imagery, author Antoinette Portis's book is a sublime joy to both look at and to read. In an age where books have to be either sporting their own personal lighting system or go for the gross-out jokes to get attention, make some room in your home for this small, unassuming delight.

As the story opens and the reader flips through the publication and title page, a small bunny spots and tugs away a box that it has found. Now we see the bunny sitting quietly within his treasure as someone (perhaps the reader) asks, "Why are sitting in a box?" A turn of the page and it's the same bunny in the same box, but now red lines have appeared around them to sketch out a fabulous racing car. The opposite page is now bright red and at the bottom of it sit the words, "It's not a box." Turn the page and now the bunny is standing on top of the box. When asked why, the red lines have turned the box into an alpine peak with the bunny at the crest of the summit. "It's not a box.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By mkeillor on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 2:08 Mins
This was taped a month before Kaiden turns three. He loves to "read."
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Anne-Marie G VINE VOICE on February 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I remember the lure of a box, especially those wonderfully long refridgerator sized boxes. This book evokes that magic of the imagination. Even the cover of the book mimics it. It is brown paper with no dust jacket, on the front it proclaims in weight in oz. On the back a red arrow points out "this end up".

Inside is a classic story. A bunny with a box (or as learned by the end, the bunny's "not-a-box") and a powerful imagination. Each page the bunny is asked what he is doing with the box and he always replies it is "not a box" and the reader gets a visual explaination of what the bunny is doing. Climbing a mountain--instead of standing ontop of a box.

This book is a treasure and would be great to read outloud to a group of younger kids.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Lynch on January 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As the previous review stated, this book has basic graphic pictures, perfect for the pre-reader who looks to the picture for story assistance.

The text has repetition of the "it's not a box" phrase which aids the pre-reader in word recognition and soon they'll be shouting it out at the right time. They'll also be able to figure out other vocabulary from the pictures and the repetition.

Parents will enjoy reading this book to their children, it's quick, it's fun and it perfectly captures the childhood joy of playing in a cardboard box. Children will enjoy listening to this book because they can correctly anticipate and shout out the story. I highly recommend this book for preschool or kindergarten classes.

The previous reviewer is correct in claiming instant classic status for this text.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Antoinette Portis, Not a Box (Harper, 2006)

If you have a kid-- or a pet-- or you were a kid (--or a pet)-- who would get all the cool toys for Christmas and then end up playing with the box, this is a book for you. It's about a rabbit, and a box. A box that's not a box. It's a lot of things, but it's not a box.

It's exceptionally simple. You'd read it to an infant, maybe a young toddler. But after the kids outgrow it, you will return to it again and again, because it's got the simple charm the marks all the enduring kids' books, as well as the kind of quick, rhythmic vocabulary that will stay with you for years after only a few readings. This is great-- even if you don't have kids, you want it. ****
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