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MAX'S BOX by Brian Wray


Letting Go of Negative Feelings

by Brian Wray ; illustrated by Shiloh Penfield

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5804-3
Publisher: Schiffer

A boy’s parents instruct him to put things, like emotions, in his box.

Max first places his toys inside the palm-sized box, each one making it slightly bigger, and soon needs a wagon to carry it. He then adds in a series of negative emotions: “hurt,” “anger,” and “embarrassment.” The apparent requirement that the box remain with him and its increasing heft make fun activities, like riding a bike, difficult. Eventually, Max can do nothing except sit next to it and be envious of other children without boxes. The cartoon illustrations, mostly in black, white, and gray, with Max’s blue jacket adding some color, augment the text’s anxiety-ridden mood. A passing boy provides an emotional connection, which, paired with a suddenly appearing ladybug, makes for an awkward transition to Max’s decision to draw a balloon on the box’s side. Once other people draw colorful balloons, including Max’s parents, the box becomes light, and the people also take on colorful hues. Only Max’s hold on the connected rope keeps it from floating away, but, at his father’s encouragement, Max lets it go. The art’s soft coloring matches the gentle story. (Max and his family present white.) An author’s note addressed to adult caregivers offers some guidelines on managing emotions, especially in terms of expected gender roles.

An appropriate metaphor to help children manage their emotions.

(Picture book. 4-8)