THE BIG BOX by Toni Morrison


Age Range: 8 & up
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Morrison and her son have created a rhymed parable—clearly addressing adults—about three children who are firmly, lovingly locked into a room-sized box because they “can’t handle their freedom.” Patty, Mickey, and Liza Sue don’t follow all the rules, e.g., at school, Patty “ran through the halls and wouldn’t play with dolls/And when we pledged to the flag she’d spoil it.” Their teachers, parents, and neighbors nervously put them away, not listening to their repeated protestation: “ ‘I know that you think/You’re doing what is best for me./But if freedom is handled just your way/Then it’s not my freedom or free.’ “ Potter places sad children and grave adults into fresh compositions, done in restrained colors, scattered with the small animals and items mentioned in the text. The Morrisons end with a challenge—“Who says they can’t handle their freedom?”—that is weakened by an illustration that, in showing the children effortlessly pushing down the box’s walls, misses the point. Nonetheless, it’s a valid message, strongly made, and a promising children’s book debut for the authors. (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7868-0416-5
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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