Boxes for Katje

( 4 )

Overview

Simple seeds of friendship grow into something extraordinary

After World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom "thick and bright," Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has...

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Overview

Simple seeds of friendship grow into something extraordinary

After World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom "thick and bright," Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box – a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What's inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks – beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.

This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author's mother's childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference.

 

Boxes for Katje is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

After a young Dutch girl writes to her new American friend in thanks for the care package sent after World War II, she begins to receive increasingly larger boxes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fleming 's engaging story of post-WWII Holland serves as a potent and merry lesson in generosity. . .Dressen-McQueen immerses readers in post-war Holland, crafting an entirely credible world of cobblestone streets, Dutch architecture and vintage clothing." —Starred, Publishers Weekly

"As heartwarming and uplifting as a bouquet of tulips." —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by actual events, Fleming's (Ben Franklin's Almanac, reviewed below) engaging story of post-WWII Holland serves as a potent-and merry-lesson in generosity. The residents of war-ravaged Olst "patched and repatched their worn-thin clothing, and they went without soap or milk, sugar or new shoes." Through the Children's Aid Society, an American child, Rosie, sends a box of provisions to Katje, a windfall the girl gladly shares with the postman and her mother. Her thank-you note inspires a larger package, which she aportions to her neighbors, and so on, until sleds of provisions from Rosie's town arrive for all the residents of Olst. Fleming deftly dramatizes the story with lively conversations among the townspeople and letters between the two girls. In an outstanding debut, Dressen-McQueen immerses readers in post-war Holland, crafting an entirely credible world of cobblestone streets, Dutch architecture and vintage clothing. Primitive in its flattened perspectives, these earth-toned illustrations (which progressively brighten as the situation does) resonate with joy and fellowship. The girls' letters and small, painted "snapshots" of Rosie's world drop into full-bleed panoramas of Katje's town. That is, until the story's end, when the residents of Olst return a gift to Rosie, whose jubilant receipt of the package fills the spread. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This wonderfully illustrated story is based upon the experiences of the author's mother who sent a box with toothpaste, soap and socks, along with a note, to Europe after World War II. The European people were in desperate need of food, warm clothing and personal items, and groups such as the Children's Aid Society, Catholic Relief Services, and the American Red Cross came to the rescue. Many Americans sent boxes packed with goods to those in need. Katje was a little girl who lived in the Dutch town of Olst where the people were suffering during the aftermath of the war. When Katje received a box from a child in the United States, she and her family generously shared the contents with their neighbors. She wrote a letter of thanks to Rosie, the young girl who sent the package, and Rosie and her family and friends responded with more boxes. Katje, her mother, and her neighbors were finally able to send a box to Rosie in return. They sent a box of tulip bulbs, and before long the beautiful tulips were blooming all over a little town in Indiana. An informative, inspirational story of young people sharing with others. 2003, Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 5 to 7.
— Carolyn Mott Ford
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This primarily iconographic presentation of Candace Fleming's historical fiction picture book (Farrar, 2003) gently captures the themes of friendship, caring, sharing, and generosity. It opens with a live-action clip of Fleming sharing the background of the story which was drawn from an incident in her mother's life. The female narrator reads in an accented voice with expression and careful pacing, creating a different voice for each character. The story takes place in Holland just after the conclusion of World War II. An American child living in Indiana sends a series of packages to Katje, a child living in Olst. At first Rosie sends Katje a box containing soap, socks, and chocolate. Katje appreciates the generous gift of needed supplies. Rosie continues to send Katje more and more packages which increase in size. Katje shares their contents with her needy neighbors and sends thank you letters to Rosie. Soon Rosie involves her entire community in the growing project to collect and send boxes of basic necessities to the people in Holland. A variety of camera angles and sprightly music keep the production moving and prevent the plot from becoming monotonous. A bit of animation is incorporated when the postman is shown riding his bicycle to make a delivery at Katje's home. The artwork by Stacey Dressen-McQueen accurately reflects the time and place. A worthy purchase for school and public libraries looking for historical fiction titles for primary grade children.-Lynn K. Vanca, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Katje and her family struggle to make due with substitutions for essentials like soap and sugar in Holland, post-WWII. One day, Postman Kleinhoonte unexpectedly delivers a small box from America addressed to Katje; it contains a bar of soap, a pair of wool socks, and some chocolate. A letter from Rosie is also in the box expressing her wish that "these gifts brighten your day." A pen-pal exchange begins with Katje’s thank-you letter and gradually develops into an American small-town effort to donate basics to their European counterpart over the course of a year. Katje’s neighbors reciprocate with a box of tulip bulbs after conditions improve in the war-torn country. Fleming reveals Katje’s character of leadership, resolve, and gratitude through her written communiqués and Rosie’s initiative and inspiration through her active promotion of the charitable effort. Dressen-McQueen captures the flavor and essence of Fleming’s 1945 family experience through her detailed mixed-media paintings delineating fabric patterns, hairdos, emotions, and the general lifestyle of both communities. As heartwarming and uplifting as a bouquet of tulips. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374309220
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/12/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 128,485
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 460L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the author of Gabriella’s Song. She lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

Stacey Dressen-McQueen lives in Portland, Oregon. This is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2009

    A wonderful story about communities helping one another!

    This story is beautifully told. You will find yourself speaking in a Dutch accent and gaining hope in the caring of 2 communities separated by an ocean. LOVE THIS BOOK!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    boxes for katje

    this book is about an american girl who becomes friends with a dutch girl. The dutch girl katje is recieving boxes with stuff and letters in them.The reason katje is recieving boxes from rosie is because the olsen family is very poor. I think this book rocks because people dont care for the poor that much any ore

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Boxes Filled with Surprise

    Beautiful book! And I love that it is based on a true story. Our church currently sends boxes at Christmas time to needed children. A beautiful story about sharing with others. Reminds me of my favorite Patrica Pollocca Books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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