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Not a Stick Hardcover – December 26, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

(Starred Review) Where Portis's Not a Box featured a plain brown wrapper, this winning sequel proffers a faux wood-grain cover. And where the earlier title featured a deceptively boxlike, hollow rectangle (which an inventive rabbit treated as a rocket or a race car), this follow-up introduces a little pig holding a long, forked object. An unenlightened voice offstage suggests, "Hey, be careful with that stick." The pig corrects the false impression ("It's not a stick") and demonstrates the item's many uses. Portis traces pig and plaything in a heavy black line on negative space, then superimposes jaunty blue line drawings that act as overlays to reveal the pig's imaginings. The pig stands astride the stick, and a rearing horse shape appears. The pig holds the stick at its midpoint and it becomes a paintbrush, aiming toward Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night. Where the offstage warnings appear in white italics on a gray ground, implying a drab rejection of fantasy ("Watch where you point that stick"), the pig's statements are printed against a deep and dreamy blue. Portis repeats her previous formula down to the conclusion, where the pig calls the DIY toy "my Not-a-Stick!," once again appealing to those who think outside the box. Ages up to 6. (Jan.)

From Booklist

This is literally a follow-up to Not a Box (2007), in which a rabbit notes the imaginary things a box can be. Here, the animal is a pig, and the object is a stick. When the unseen narrator urges, “Be careful with that stick,” the pig replies that it’s not a stick. And sure enough, on succeeding pages, the object is a sword, a fishing rod, and inexplicably, a horse. Once again Portis’ very simple black line drawings, set against clean backgrounds, leave plenty of room for imagination. Children will hope for others in the Not a series. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061123250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061123252
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If the the "Not a..." franchise continues to grow, that'll be fine by us. We're fans of both. For those enjoyed the first book, this is the sequel you would've hoped for. If you haven't already seen (the award winning) "Not a Box," no matter; This one is as good a place to start. (As far as the pig goes, I'm a fan.) For anyone who's had to slog through too many bedtimes with the all too standard fare of the genre, "Not a Stick" easily stands with the best of them. Great illustrations, too.
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Format: Hardcover
If you give a publisher a popular book, they're going to want another.

While the book is fine on its own, it's too slavishly similar to "Not a Box." Whether it's the author or the publisher making that decision, I don't know. I do know that my boys, who loved "Not a Box"--and rightly so--they like this just fine, but it's nothing special. The original has been read ad infinitum in the last year, and to this day. This has been in the house for less than a week, and it's already passe.

Even without "Not a Box" for comparison, I've got to say, the pig just is not as engaging a hero as the bunny. It's a fine book when you read it in the store, but would you really want to read it over and over and over? Some of the phrasing is awkward--"look where you're going with that stick," likely done to avoid overusing the word "watch," which is in the very next line--and the lovely sound and rhythm that came from pairing "not" and "box" is lost here.

The similarly creative, and creativity-encouraging, "Harold and the Purple Crayon" books each build on the previous and go to new places, new worlds. Right now, I'm afraid of the same repetition that hit the "if you give a blank a blank" books. Or even "The Very Adjective Insect" by Eric Carle. (Blasphemy, I know.) I don't want to see that happen, because based on "Not a Box," I think Ms. Portis may be better than that.

That being said, I know I wouldn't be buying "Not a Ball," "Not a Chair," "Not a Sock," "Not a Hoop" or "Not a Blanket." We get it. Please, show us something new, something more.
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Format: Hardcover
I just love this little book! It's about me (or any parent) and my two boys (or any kid who fancies himself a swashbuckler at age four.) Every scenario's hero: the shark fisherman, the gallant knight, the he-man weightlifter, the caveman hunter, even the band leader -- is a role my boys have performed with gusto and aid of a stick at one time or another in their dramatic-play lives (with me advising "Don't poke anyone!" from the wings.) Antoinette Portis has obviously observed children at play or remembers that abandon from her own childhood. The steadfast surrender to one's imagination (as only kids can do) is celebrated with each reveal. Joy to look at, joy to read, joy to share (especially with boys, but, sure, with swashbuckler girls as well!) Cute piggy, fun book!
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Format: Hardcover
Oh, to be young again and find such joy and abandon in something as ordinary as a stick! Last year, we loved how Ms. Portis reminded us that a box is not just a box. Now, she delights us by reminding us that a stick is not just a stick. From the very first page, I was enchanted by the sweet-faced pig reaching out for a tree branch. Page after page, we are treated to the author's ingenious and creative notions of what an ordinary stick might actually turn out to be. As in "Not A Box" Ms. Portis again uses simple line illustrations (although the illustration on page 15 is anything but simple and quite a lovely surprise) and quiet text to transport us into her character's imagination. "Not A Stick" is not just another book; it is a wonderfully imaginative book and I only hope that there are more Not-A-Books to come.
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Format: Hardcover
My little girls love, I mean really love, Not A Box, the perfect toddler book that came out last year. We read it OFTEN -- over and over. Mommy loves it too, but (whew!) I was ready for a change, just a little change (or my girls would never let me "out of the Box".)
And then... Not A Stick arrived in our bookstore! Thank you! Thank you! Ms. Portis. The pig is adorable, my girls are happy, they yell "It's not a stick!" just like the refrain from Box. We're all enjoying the fun new drawings of the pig's imagination.
Not A Stick, Not-A-Moment too soon!!!
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Format: Hardcover
When it's been illustrated by Antoinette Portis.

This charming sequel to Not a Box is a treasure in it's own right. An ode to those who find the world more interesting than the plastic schlock that's mass-produced for them to play with, Not A Stick is perfect for the imaginative child in your life, or the college kid who thinks outside the stick. Move over Wilber, Portis' piggy is an adorable addition to the pantheon of ovine literary heroes.
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Format: Hardcover
The kids in my family and the kid in me have all been waiting for Not A Stick after so thoroughly enjoying Not A Box. We weren't disappointed. This new book, in what I hope will be a long series, scores really big. I don't know what those other reviewers were talking about -- Not A Stick is fun, funny, clever, heart-warming, and the pig is adorable. It's terrific, and I can't wait to read what comes next.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure what the literary grinch who wrote the previous review has against series books (especially one this well done). Children will appreciate that "Not A Stick" is at once familiar and yet different. This book is full of the same delightful humor and wonderful illustrations as the award winning "Not A Box"--your kid will love it.
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