I remember reading that the long-awaited publication day of your first book or second or third, for that matter is not all it’s cracked up to be. There’s no fanfare, no parades, no phone calls from friends. Unlike a movie premiere, there’s no paparazzi or televised interviews. But still, it’s your baby’s birthday, even if you’re the only one who knows it. So, before this day closes out (it kind of got away from me), let me wish a Happy Birth Day to Antoinette Portis’s book, Not a Box.
Not a Box shows a little bunny having fun with a box, as all little kids will do. With a little imagination the box becomes a mountain, a rocket, or a robot costume. The bunny goes in the box and on the box. He (or she) wears the box and waters the box. And all through the book, the unseen adult voice questions the bunny’s actions. The little bunny insists all along that “It’s not a box,” and the reader can see how right the little bunny is, even if the questioning adult can’t see it.
The line drawings are very simple, just bunny and box. When the bunny asserts that it’s not a box, the reader sees the box the way the bunny sees it. The book cover is boxlike brown paper with a weight indication on the front and “This End Up” on the back. The text is simple and allows for the child to take the bunny’s part in the story.
When I drove my seven-year-old and her friend to ballet, this book was in the back seat with them. They read it over and over again, taking turns being the grown-up and the bunny. It would have been much more heartwarming if the reading and the resulting laugher and apparently necessary yelling hadn’t taken place about two feet from my head. For a solid twenty minutes. But I can safely say that it was a hit.