Not a Box
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Not a Box

4.4 26
by Antoinette Portis

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A box is just a box . . . unless it's not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes

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A box is just a box . . . unless it's not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard box, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.

Editorial Reviews

Pamela Paul
Full of mischief, the book's simple line drawings open up a world of imagination, humor and interactivity that make it a superb introduction to children's literature.
—The New York Times
A child can have as much fun with a box as with the toy packaged in it. So when a rabbit imagines a box to be a burning building that he heroically douses with a fire hose and a rocket that he pilots to outer space, children will relate. This gently humorous book celebrates the ingenuity of kids, whose games of make-believe can spin magic out of the simplest materials. (ages 3 to 6)
The February 2007 issue of Child magazine
Publishers Weekly
Sometimes the best toys are improvised, according to this celebration of the humble cardboard box. Packaged in a plain brown jacket that resembles a paper bag (another item with vast potential), this minimalist book features a rabbit-child, simply drawn in a heavy black line. In the first spread, designed in neutral black, white and tan, the rabbit's head peeks out of a rectangle. An offstage voice asks, "Why are you sitting in a box?" When the page turns, the rabbit answers, "It's not a box." A touch of color comes into the image. The empty white background is tinted pale yellow, and a thick red line traces a racecar over the basic black box shape, revealing what the rabbit imagines. By the time the skeptical voice inquires, "Now you're wearing a box?," readers know to expect a playful transformation in the next spread. "This is not a box," replies the rabbit, as a red robot suit is superimposed over the initial drawing. The teasing questions challenge the young rabbit, who demonstrates that a box can serve as a pirate-ship crow's nest, a hot-air balloon basket and a rocket. Readers won't abandon their battery-charged plastic toys, but they might join in a game of reimagining everyday objects. Most profitably, Portis reminds everyone (especially her adult audience) that creativity doesn't require complicated set-ups. Ages 6 mos.-6 yrs. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Sometimes the best toy a child can have is a simple box. So when our rabbit hero is asked why he is sitting in a box, his obvious reply is that it's not a box. And on page spread after page spread, we can see the many things the box can become in his imagination, from racing car or house on fire, to robot or rocket ship. This appeal to a child's sense of make-believe is direct, without fussy distracting details or a cacophony of colors. Black marker-like outlines are all it takes to visualize a fire hose or mountain top. Minimum colors are added for depicting his imaginary adventures, while all the questioner can see is the outline of box and bunny. The jacketless cover is colored and textured like a cardboard box, with "Net Wt. 11.5 oz." printed next to the author's name on the front, and "This Side Up" on the back.
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 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 McClellandCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Dedicated "to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes," this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner ("Are you still standing around in that box?") that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson-style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo's Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith's Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
1 - 6 Years

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Not a Box 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
You know how young children will sometimes receive a super amazing fantastic gift and proceed to derive much more enjoyment from the cardboard box the gift came in? Well, according to Antoinette Portis' 2006 book Not a Box, young rabbits do that to. (So do cats, but that is neither here nor there.) There are a lot of reasons I enjoy this book, the first of which is because of its design. The book looks like a box (even though it's not). The cover is made of brown-cardboard-feeling paper. The weight (11.5 ounces) is clearly marked on the front, while the back notes which side is up. The cardboard theme understandably continues in the book's interior. The structure is the same throughout, so I'm just going to go through the first one: Brown lefthand page reading: "Why are you sitting in a box?" Righthand page: black and white drawing of a young rabbit sitting in a box. Turn the page. Red lefthand page: "It's not a box." Righthand page: color (red, black, yellow and white) illustration of the young rabbit driving a race car. The same scenario is repeated several times until the clever ending. At first I had thought that this book would be a hard sell for a read-aloud because, well, there isn't a lot to read. However, after discussing the book with "Tori" I came to a different conclusion. Tori suggested that the book would work better in a more non-traditional storytime where the kids get in on the act. Ask the kids what they see in each picture, let them describe the story. If the children are older, you could also ask them to find the "original" box in each of the rabbits imagined scenarios. The book would also work well in a one-on-one reading between parents and their own children, which is the scenario I had initially imagined for this book. I like the story because it's simple with nice drawings that children can clearly interpret thanks to the thick lines and limited palette. Also, since most children do enjoy a good cardboard box, it's likely that they'll be intrigued by the rabbit's scenarios and perhaps find ideas for their own playtime. I'm not the only one that enjoyed this book. In 2007, Not a Box was selected as a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. The award was established in 2006 for the author and illustrator who annually make "the most distinguished contribution to beginning reader books." The fun continues in with a piglet in Not a Stick.
Barbara Painter More than 1 year ago
Oh my box! this is the most funnist book
Sage Bremault More than 1 year ago
Mikes_Dad More than 1 year ago
Simple, but powerful.  As a kid, my favorite toy was a pot.  Or, should I say, a not a pot.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
First of all, I love the &quot;packaging&quot; of this book. The cover looks like a parcel -- so cute and so clever. Then there is the rabbit. &quot;Not a Box&quot; has drawn comparisons to &quot;Harold and the Purple Crayon&quot;, another very good, buy-worthy book, but in some ways I prefer this book. Because of the rabbit. The rabbit is drawn in that deceptively simple way (rather like Mo Willems' pigeon), is nameless and gender-neutral. Any child can relate to the rabbit.  When my son was about a year and a half, he began to empty all the toys out of his toy box (and scatter the toys ALL over the family room floor) and then try to climb into the empty toy box. For his safety and my sanity, I had to move his toy box and set up an empty box in it's place. Now he climbs into the empty box. I remember doing this when I was very young. See, any child can relate to a rabbit with an imagination and an empty box. The story and illustrations are easy-to-follow, toddler-simple. This book works great for story time with a large group of children, or story time with just one child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is a bit bland and abstract for our 2 year old. We figured since it was a board book the subject would be interesting to children. Perhaps later in the year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book for young children. All children love boxes and it sparks their imagination on so many levels.
Tariqshah Syed More than 1 year ago
Lol funny
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Serrano Withers More than 1 year ago
coming ftom a boy that sounded wierd. Well that bunny is cute. I recemond for older or younger kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Delma Defoor More than 1 year ago
i absoulutly loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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MsWatson More than 1 year ago
It's not a box is a great story to challenge children to really "think outside the box" and is great for those full of imagination. If you or a little kid you know has pointed out that their mashed potatoes look like mountains and that broccoli is just a little tree, your kid will like this. It's fun book to read again and again too to practice having kids make predictions and to fill in the blank as you read slowly. This book will also encourage imaginative play for children because it gives them ideas as to what they can do with simple objects around the house.
helocin More than 1 year ago
From the cover and paper choice to the adorable illustrations and perfectly chosen text, this book wins top honors from me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My five year old loves this book!
momof2KS More than 1 year ago
The kids LOVE it! The concept is interesting and it sparks a lot of discussino with my 2 & 3 yr olds. They want to to read it over and over and tell me what the box is this time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It captures that imaginary play that all our kids engage in. Simply illustrated with creative ideas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very simple book from outward appearances. However, I see this book as a way to begin a writing assignment or to spark creative thoughts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for all my nieces and nephews and hope that this holiday season when they tire of their presents, they use the power of imagination and their empty gift boxes to transport themselves to wherever their fancy takes them. A wonderful book!
Sharon Lochmueller More than 1 year ago
It is so good!!!!! I have read it sixteen times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?BUENO! ?Me tengo leer 16 tiempo! ?-? :P