Intuitive, inspired executions of art and verse perfectly capture the unending fun of time spent inside a box.

WHAT TO DO WITH A BOX

An ode to cardboard, four sides, and flaps both honors and alerts children to the pleasures it houses.

Jolly rhymes sing praise, perhaps prompting readers to look near their recycling bins for a fresh box. What else can be “a library, / palace, / or nook”? Add some dolls, and you've got a tea party. Paint a backdrop, and you're basking at the beach or sitting by a forest stream. Put simply, "A box! A box / is a wonder / indeed. / The only / such magic / that you'll / ever need." The succinct, straightforward simplicity of Yolen's singsong-y verse suits its subject: the everyday, plain-old, big-brown box. Sheban's inviting artwork, painted and drawn atop real corrugated and flat cardboard, makes clear the magic that happens when introducing imagination to an ordinary packing box. Warmth, depth, expanse, and humor all reside in his paintings, which show a red-haired white boy and dark-haired, slightly darker-skinned girl playing inside a box, their own illustrations and creativity at work. Sheban imbues the cardboard-box brown that covers and constitutes so much of these pictures with a honeyed amber that almost glows, especially alongside strokes of white acrylic paint that highlight each spread.

Intuitive, inspired executions of art and verse perfectly capture the unending fun of time spent inside a box. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56846-289-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.

WHAT IF...

A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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