WHAT IS INSIDE THIS BOX? by Drew Daywalt

WHAT IS INSIDE THIS BOX?

From the "Monkey and Cake" series
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Anthropomorphic friends Monkey and Cake debate the mysterious contents of a cardboard box.

In a clear reference to Schrödinger, Monkey tells Cake that there’s a cat inside the box—but, supposedly, the cat disappears when the box is opened. Cake questions Monkey’s logic, wondering how they know there is a cat inside when the box is closed. Naturally, Monkey asks how Cake knows there is not a cat inside. Agreeing to disagree—and accepting the paradox—the pair leaves to get pie. The final pages set the matter straight once and for all. Taking a cue from the Elephant & Piggie series formula, the text consists entirely of dialogue. Speech bubbles are color-coded to easily match with characters (blue for Cake; yellow for Monkey). With a vocabulary of around 60 words, the dialogue offers plenty of repetition for emergent readers. Tallec’s expressive, dark-pencil–and-acrylic illustrations are set against a white background. That the characters are a brown monkey with an upturned cap and a yellow-and-pink slice of cake with a coating of brown frosting as hair opens the relationship up to racial analysis. In one spread, a zoomed-in portrait of Cake even looks like a white human. The simultaneously publishing This Is MY Fort! recycles the formula into a lesson on the cruelty of exclusion (Cake makes a fort in which no monkeys are allowed). In both texts, endpapers offer open-ended questions to contextualize the story.

An entertaining thought experiment, but the characters are a bit too on-the-nose for pure comfort. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-338-14386-7
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2018




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