Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Marian called it Roxaboxen.  (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill — nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo — but it was a special place.

If you don’t know this book, you should.  It’s one of those perfect picture books that I never tire of reading.  Each time, I fall in love all over again.  My emotions rise and sometimes tears too because the words and pictures evoke my own childhood wandering in imaginary territory.

My cousins and I built Fort Lava amid the sagebrush and junipers of Central Oregon.  We dodged the horses in the field to get there.  We stole vitamin C from the huge canister in the pantry in the ranch house for snacks.  My middle cousin crunched on Meow Mix and told the rest of us it wasn’t bad at all.

Roxaboxen is a peon to our past worlds, and I want to go back again and again.  What a contrast to books that satisfy once but don’t beg me to return — like I Want My Hat Back, which is both deft and funny but once the surprise is sprung there’s no need to read again — or the books that get annoying on repetition–like Skippy Jon Jones, who will drive me insane one day.

Unlike those books, once is never enough for Roxaboxen.

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2 thoughts on “Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney

  1. I just discovered your blog and spotted this post. This is one of my all-time favorites as well. So evocative of my childhood. I love the total immersion aspect of their play. Makes me want to be 9 years old again.

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