Not a Stick
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Not a Stick

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,899 ratings  ·  192 reviews
Antoinette Portis again captures the thrill of when pretend feels so real that it becomes real. With a stick in hand, the options are endless—whether it's conducting an orchestra, painting a masterpiece, or slaying a dragon—give a child a stick and let imagination take over and the magic begin.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 26th 2007 by HarperCollins
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I used to pretend all sorts of stuff when I was little. Fortress out of Construx, plastic bag as parachute, all the standard stuff. I distinctly remember trying out that last one with a leap off the top of the swing set. Needless to say, I didn’t give that a second attempt. Imagination was a big part of my life. With “Not a Stick”, Antoinette Portis follows the pro-imagination blueprint of 2006’s “Not a Box”, creating a worthy follow up.

The book kinda goes like this: an off-camera narrator menti...more
Lisa Vegan
I liked this one even more than [Not a Box:]. This book captures so well children’s imaginative play. I remember playing like this; I’ve observed many, many children playing like this. The ending doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the book text wise but the illustrations work perfectly throughout. I do wonder whether nostalgic adults might enjoy this book more than children will though.
Not A Stick is a little gem of a picture book. The entire book is about 75 words and illustrated primarily with line drawings. The story revolves around our (unnamed) main character who is a young pig. He is continually being questioned about the stick he is carrying: why is he carrying it, be careful with it, etc. Throughout the story our hero emphatically denies that what he is holding is a "stick."

The illustrations for each of his responses reveal that the "stick" is alternately a fishing pol...more
Jack Kirby and the X-man
A follow-up book to Not a Box.

This follow-up book has all the problems of the original (basically an inability to find a satisfactory climax to the book), without many of its redeeming features.

They've attempted to bring across the design elements - this book's cover looks like a plank of wood. Of course a stick doesn't actually look like a neatly cut plank of wood at all... And the original's cover actually felt like a cardboard box - this version's cover feels like a book cover.

The ability to...more
The other day my kids were playing with pretzel sticks, trying to get their siblings to guess what they were imagining their sticks to be: airplanes, horses, etc. I listened to their play, and then pulled out this book to read to them. I wondered if they would follow the sparse text, but they didn't need any prompting to understand the subtle story of Pig and his everything-stick. They loved turning each page to see what the stick would be next, trying to anticipate the evolution of Pig's creati...more
Just like "Not a Box" only using a stick. This would be great for text-to-text comparison within the class, but also to inspire creativity by giving children their own stick to get creative with. They could then do a show and share with their creations. Endless lesson potential to assess in all domains!
Be honest. How many of you Goodreads folks out there routinely check closets for a secret passage to Narnia? Be honest! Okay, just me? That's okay too. Well, how many of you love letting your imagination run wild? Or, if you don't do so now, can you at least remember how exhilerating it was to be little? When pretending felt SO real and SO fun? This book is about just that. It is a sheer delight to read to pre-schoolers as they try to conjure up potential scenarios the main character (a pig, I t...more
Cheryl in CC NV
Utterly wonderful. My youngest liked sticks until he was 12 - but I had the sense to just let him be. Piglet is so creative - the stick is not only a sword and a horse but also a fishing pole, a barbell, etc....
This is a brilliantly simple book that indulges the imagination of children both young and old. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because the ending is anti-climatic. A little pig is holding a stick when he's told to "be careful with that stick". "It's NOT a stick" says pig. The illustrations show the stick changing from a fishing pole to a paintbrush and other items in the pigs imagination. It finally becomes a sword used to fight a fire breathing dragon. When asked "Still standing ar...more
Bambini Travel
"Hey, be careful with that stick." is how this tribute to imagination and creativity begins. This book is for every child who has ever been told to put down a stick. Parents and teachers are forever concerned about the dangers of playing with a stick, but NOT A STICK is a celebration of the imaginative play that can result. Minimalist drawings and text with a touch of whimsy.
Zequoia Hyche
I love this book! Antoinette Portis is amazing and I love how she is promoting imagination and creativity heavily throughout this book. I think that this is an excellent tool to use in the classroom, so that students can see that teachers value creativity and that their thoughts and imaginations are important to their learning process. Great book indeed!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shakeema Gabriel
This is such a great book for imagination. Children can make anything they want to out of using a stick or a box. This would be a nice lesson to give each a child a stick and see what they can come up with.
Mrs. Knott
When I look at young children today, the imaginative world seems to have closed for so many and has been replaced by electronics. Portis' Not A... series is trying to bring some imaginative magic back!
Would I like this book if I just took it off the shelf and read it? Probably not. Reading it to a group of 5-6 year olds makes it so much more enjoyable!
Miriam Matthews
We borrowed this book from the library, it was one of several that my 4yo son grabbed at random, but by the time it was returned it was the most read book out of all the ones that he grabbed.

When I opened the book, I was a bit dubious about the lack of writing, and the fact that it relied heavily upon ones imagination, but, once my son and I really got into it, there was no problems with it at all. He just loved trying to think exactly what the stick was portraying, and it was a lot of fun to se...more
I am a fan of Antoinette Portis' books. NOT A STICK is cleverly designed. The illustrations and text are ridiculously simple that I can't help but love it. In just a few words, Antoinette manages to bring the MC's imagination to life. The dialogue that occurs is genuine. The fact that the MC is a pig is also very funny. I love the layout and the pacing of the book. The square- shaped book also has a quality that I love. It's simplistic design gives way for big ideas and imagination that the book...more
Dec 18, 2012 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Shelves: 2012, childrens
This is a fun book, a follow up to Not a Box. Both books are very similar, with the main character demonstrating how an ordinary stick can become any number of things, if you just use your imagination.

Both books speak to the creativity and imagination that children have, often preferring to play with boxes and sticks, making up a world of their own rather than merely play with a pre-defined toy. We enjoyed reading this story together, taking turns reading the questions and responses.

This book captures how imaginative children are. I enjoyed this beginning reader book.
Jun 23, 2008 Mandy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mandy by: ACPL Mock Geisel and Caldecott
My thoughts as posted to the Mock Geisel blog:

I know the size and shape of books like this don't fit into our traditional definition of an early reader, but the award criteria says nothing about physical format.

Instead, it mentions that the subject matter be intriguing enough to motivate the child to read, the illustrations function as keys or clues to the text, and the plot creates a "page-turning" dynamic (weren't you curious to find out what the not-a-stick would be next?) "Not a Stick" fits...more
Katey Thompson
Portis does it again! Such a simple, creative and endearing book.
Mrs. Bell
Great text to inspire everyone to use their imagination!
Tracy Morton
Would be a good book for acting out with younger children.
I think this book is hysterical. It is so true. Adults tend to look at what children are playing with and say, "Hey, be careful, why are you playing with that stick?" when children aren't playing with a stick, they are completely lost in their own little world. This is a delightful book that is equal parts amusing and imaginative, you should definitely check it out.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Another great book by Antoinette Portis. Whereas the other book's cover was cardboard (like the Not a cardboard box inside), this one's cover looked like wood. The little piggie uses just as much imagination telling what the "Not a stick" is. For example, he/she imagines the stick is drum majors baton, a giant sword for fighting a dragon, or a horse. Though I liked the imagination better in the other book, I thought the drawings were cuter in this book.
Much the same as Not a Box, this book that focuses on imagination. There is something beautiful about the child/rabbit/stick thing and the way it plays.

A picture book for younger readers (and a great prospect for a board book).

It might get a little repetitive if it becomes your child's favorite.
This book -- the concept, the illustrations, even the kraft paper cover -- is so simple and obvious, yet sheer genius that will poke a smile out of anyone who's ever been a kid, or who owns one now.

When is a cardboard box not a box? When it is a spaceship, or a mountain, or a racecar or a.... well, you get the idea. Also check out "Not a stick" -- though once you get the basic idea...
Dec 23, 2008 Heidi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Preschool and up
Shelves: picture-book
I LOVE this book! What a creative way of looking at what the imagination can do. It's all in how you look at a stick. I also enjoyed Antoinette's first book as well, "Not a Box". The illustrations are very simple and easily tell the story even without the text. Black and white show the "realistic" view, while the color pages show the "creative" side. Highly recommend this one.
What a great book! I read it with my library students this week (grades 1-2), and we enjoyed using our imaginations. The simple words and pictures leave room for the reader to guess what the stick will be and to use their imaginations to decide what else the stick could be!

I will definitely use this book again in the library and look for the other books by this author.
Just as good as Not A Box.
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Antoinette attended the UCLA School of Fine Arts and is a former creative director at Disney. She lives in Southern California.
More about Antoinette Portis...
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