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4.3 out of 5 stars7
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on August 26, 2011
I do not agree with the reviewers that stated the story is creepy...we did not find it to be. I thought it was a wonderful story about connection with the past, common dreams of children having a fun, safe, and exciting adventure, and a little mystery found kind of experience. I loved the illustrations, their detail, and coloring. The idea that children are children no matter what year it is...the theme of children through the ages all want the same thing...dreams come true of fun and hope and something better than we can ourselves imagine. How in the world is that creepy? Without any words, it is due to your interpretation to embrace the charm of this sweet book. I want to donate a copy of it to our school library, for I feel this book is a gem.
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on May 10, 2011
I really enjoy Lehman's books.
The beautiful images and narrative presentation is lovely.
We loved the Rainstorm.

However, her stories have a slightly dark feel to them (only slightly, and maybe just my interpretation).
This one seems to focus on children living in a group home of some kind escaping to a wonderland of the pier fair.
That said, our child has enjoyed the book and will likely find a place for it on her reading list off and on for many years.
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on April 9, 2011
Three children at a school find a box, a time capsule in time, left by a student from long ago. Looking through its contents, matching photos and maps, they discover an underground path to a seaside carnival: Seahorse Pier. Children ages 3-6 will have fun following this wordless adventure through time and space, connecting past and present.
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----------------------------------------------------
"The Secret Box"
Written & illustrated by Barbara Lehman
(Houghton Mifflin, 2011)
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Another entry in Lehman's sizable catalog of wordless picturebooks... This one is strongly reminiscent of David Wiesner's "Flotsam," telling the tale of several generations of children (growing up in the same orphanage?) who find a mysterious old box packed with pictures and memorabilia from a fantastical, lost-in-time beachside amusement park. It's a fun story, though in my overprotectivoid glory, I feel obliged to point out that the magical passageway that the kids run through to get to Seahorse Pier looks an awful lot like a water culvert, and as a kid I was always told to never go in those, since people often drown inside them. Otherwise, great book! (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)
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on January 9, 2014
If you are unfamiliar with the author's books, check out a few of her others too. I really like the Red Book, though this one seems to be my son's favorite, currently (he's 3).
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on January 18, 2016
We love all of the Lehman books we have thus far and plan on trying to complete our collection. Imaginative and fun.
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This entirely wordless book opens with a picture of a boy opening a floorboard to reveal a hidden box. Then we see a building in the middle of open farmland. The presence of uniformed boys exercising suggests the building is an orphanage. A gazebo stands behind the house within a fenced yard.

The next page shows the passage of considerable time as the area is now rather built-up. But the orphanage and the gazebo still stand, and boys still exercise in the yard.

Then more time has passed and the area is now in a large city. The orphanage is squeezed between large buildings and the yard has been paved over. Boys play basketball in the paved yard.

Next, three boys are shown upstairs in the bedroom of the orphanage. They discover the loose floorboard and the box, which contains pictures that lead them from the gazebo, through a tunnel, to an amusement park on a pier. The boys follow the clues, locate the tunnel and come out at the pier. When they get to the amusement park, the boy in the original picture opens a door for them and they find themselves in a room with a bunch of kids who are, presumably, the previous residents of the orphanage. Have they all died and this is orphanage heaven? We aren't given any explanation, but it's pretty creepy.

Then we skip ahead yet again. We see two modern-looking children in the orphanage bedroom, and then we see the outside of the orphanage, no even more densely packed in among even bigger skyscrapers. The two children are following the same path to the amusement park, and the last we see of them, they are standing at the entrance to the tunnel.

A note about the author tells us: ""The Secret Box" was inspired when [Barbara Lehman] wondered, What if a child's treasure box from the past could provide even more of a connection between people, places, and time." Okay, I get that part, but it still doesn't make sense. At the time the original boy hides the box, there is clearly no tunnel. And in such an undeveloped, remote location, how could there be an amusement park? Clearly the amusement park is not meant to be real, at least not in this world. Because the amusement park is full of all the former orphanage inhabitants, and because we never see any of the boys return, it seems that the amusement park is meant to represent, what, death? Quite bizarre and unsettling for a children's book aimed at preschoolers. My own four-and-a-half-year-old definitely did not like it, maybe older kids will
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