A sophisticated attempt to build suspense and awaken the imagination may ultimately fail to deliver a satisfying conclusion for most readers.
A loud knock at the door alerts the narrator that a box has come. It is black; it is “a spooky box.” The narrator wonders, “what’s inside?” A graphic adventure follows as the text invites readers to speculate on just what might be in the mysterious box. “It could be full of bats! / Or filled with rats!”—or spiders, bones, snakes or a cake. Utilizing a limited palette of starkly contrasting black, white and yellowy orange, Gonyea imagines vivid dark shapes that emerge from the box with creepy intensity. Serpents with white-triangle eyes zigzag across one spread, while a squid unfurls itself from the black square’s confines. Then there is a thump that heightens the anticipation. It cannot be candy, but maybe it’s a “ton of toads” or a robot “with laser eyes and a kung-fu claw!” If readers are brave enough, they will discover a vertical flap that opens to reveal…“two more spooky boxes!” And so it goes on for another two spreads, never revealing what’s in the boxes but asking readers to speculate some more—and disappointing many, who will justifiably feel they’ve been left hanging.
For those pleasantly surprised and inspired by the title’s open-endedness, though, possibilities abound for creative writing or art activities. (Picture book. 4-7)