A mysterious box seeks a giver.
After parachuting from the sky, an unaddressed cardboard box wonders, “Who’s going to open me?” Sporting spindly arms and legs, the cheerful box slips into homes and crashes a science camp, surprising—then ditching—assorted children, most of whom seem to be expecting deliveries. Its corny parting puns, such as “Piece out!” to a child anticipating a new puzzle or “That’s not my beat” to a drummer eager to replace broken drumsticks, will likely fly over young readers’ heads. After escaping bickering twins, a dog, and a clamor of kids claiming their tutu, tennis racket, etc., the box leaps into the arms of its dream recipient: a child who’s sure it contains “something wonderful” and who’d “love to give [it] to”…someone, despite its unknown contents. “Who would YOU give this box to?” asks the last line. Despite good intentions, mixed messages and a cleverly boxlike but awkwardly reverse-opening cover make this lesson in generosity difficult to unpack. Their dangerously naïve acceptance of a suddenly appearing, unmarked box aside, it’s fair for kids expecting packages to assume that the box is theirs, and the box’s teasing exits risk contradicting the kindness it hopes to impart. Sadly, Schoenbrun’s spot cartoon illustrations don’t disguise the purposive plot or flat speech-balloon dialogue. Most kids present as kids of color. Three present white; one uses a wheelchair.
Return to sender. (Picture book. 4-8)