Not a Box
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Not a Box

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  6,687 ratings  ·  475 reviews
A box is just a box . . . unless it's not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published December 12th 2006 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2006)
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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
228th out of 2,786 books — 4,083 voters
We are in a Book! by Mo WillemsNot a Box by Antoinette PortisThere is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo WillemsI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenFirst the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(Theodor Seuss) Geisel Awards and Honors
2nd out of 39 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Cute! Imaginative! Fun! And totally in the realm of the child's vision. Loved it.
Gregory Walters
I love toys. When children walk into my principal's office, they notice two things: (1) kids' books, and (2) toys. In the toy department, I stock the classics: Slinky, Magic 8-Ball, wind-up critters. But I've overlooked an even more popular classic, one that doesn't require navigating your way through PlayStation gadgetry and Transformer movie tie-ins at the local Toys "R" Us. Get your hands on a large cardboard box--large enough to climb in--and watch the fun begin.

This picture book is an ode t...more
Lisa Vegan
Nov 20, 2008 Lisa Vegan rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: the young at heart
I didn’t really think the ending worked but this very simple book captures perfectly children’s imaginations at play and how boxes (or other objects) can become anything. It reminded me of the box that came with a new stove and what fun my friends and I had in it as castle, house, fort, etc. and how we would use a table with a blanket over it for some of the same play. Kids are so great!
Jack Scotcher
Not a Box is about a rabbit, who, when asked why he/she is sitting in a box, answers with the sort of response you would expect from any child (or in this case a rabbit) aged six and below.

It's not a box! It's a racing car; a rocket ship; a house; a boat. Though I did not read it with my class, I really enjoyed it and look forward to the opportunity of reading it to a yr1 or reception class.

I liked that the book had been made from the same sort of cardboard used for boxes and the illustrations...more
A book my 6 yr old as well as my twin 3 yr olds loved. A solid reading level 1 book, this cute story keeps all ages engaged with the bright colorful pictures and cute story. A great addition to any children's library.
I read to my 5-year-old. He reports he, "loved it very, super, much!"
For me, it brought back a particular memory that I wonder if my family recalls.
My parents had purchased a new refrigerator. The box it came in was an amazing sight! Until then I had no idea a box that size existed.
My little brother and I successfully persuaded my mother to allow us to sleep in the box for the night before it was disposed of. We happily did our get-ready-for-bed routine without the usual coaxing. The room was da...more
First of all, I love the "packaging" of this book. The cover looks like a parcel -- so cute and so clever.

Then there is the rabbit. "Not a Box" has drawn comparisons to "Harold and the Purple Crayon", another very good, buy-worthy book, but in some ways I prefer this book. Because of the rabbit. The rabbit is drawn in that deceptively simple way (rather like Mo Willems' pigeon), is nameless and gender-neutral. Any child can relate to the rabbit.

When my son was about a year and a half, he began...more
Dec 11, 2011 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a humorous tale about a rabbit and a box (I mean, it's not a box.) The plot is similar to Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All, but it's a much more simple tale, just a conversation between the reader and the rabbit. Still, it speaks to the creativity and imagination that children have, often preferring to play with boxes and make 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.

Sharmin Ali
A little rabbit has a box. Everyone keeps asking him questions about the box but the rabbit suggests that it is “not a box” and begins to get frustrated. He has very creative imagination and makes the box into different things in his imagination such as a car, mountain etc.

Although, this story is very short, I really enjoyed it. I love how the pictures show us the imagination of the rabbit. I also like the cover over the book, which has a cardboard box feeling to it. It will be a very good story...more
Sarah Hammerton
Not a Box is a lovely story about the power of imagination. It begins by asking Rabbit 'Why are you sitting in a box?'. Rabbit replies 'It's not a box' and on the next page we see Rabbit in a racing car. The question is repeated with the same answer each time and a variety of different situations including a burning building and a space ship. The simple, stylised illustrations perfectly reflect the theme of the book - that you can create anything with your imagination.

The cover of the book is p...more
Not a Box
by Antoinette Portis
Published in 2009

Genre: Fiction

Format: Picture book

Plot Summary: "In bold, unornamented line drawings of a rabbit and a box, the author-illustrator offers a paean to the time-honored imaginative play of young children who can turn a cardboard box into whatever their creativity can conjure. Through a series of paired questions and answers, the rabbit is queried about why he is sitting in, standing on, spraying, or wearing a box. Each time, he insists, 'It's not a box!...more
Emma Otusajo

This is an early reader's book great - simple but with a clear message that illustrates how children use their imagination to play with simple things - like cardboard boxes! (Making you wonder why you spent all that money on those toys when all they really want is the box...)

The story is sweet, with good illustrations and large print - an early reader could definitely relate to this story. Good for getting children to use their imagination to use props in a drama activity.

From another perspectiv...more
Apr 08, 2013 June rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone who has or does play w/boxes
Recommended to June by: Elissa?
A rabbit is asked repeated questions about what s/he is doing with a box. The rabbits response each time is "It's not a box." The illustration shows what s/he thinks it is. The last response to the question "Well, what is it then?" is great. 6/21/12

Use at PJ Story Time and this worked almost as well as My Friend Rabbit to keep the young boy's attention.

This worked much better at story time where some of the children were slightly older and could participate and respond with what the box is. Work...more
Andy Mercer
An imaginative exploration of the possibilities presented to a ‘rabbit’ by a simple cardboard box. The wording is basic and straightforward and yet conveys the story well. The art is equally simple, yet effective, showing the rabbit and box on one page and the imaginative use of the book on the next. A short and enjoyable book, probably aimed at high KS1 or early KS2 readers
This is one of my favorite books ever. It reminds me to see more than the surface. It reminds me to imagine. Also, it makes me giggle.
Jeana Wert
This book was cute, but it was not on my list of favorite children's books. There were a couple positives about the book, like the bunny using his imagination. This could teach young children to use their imagination with simple objects such as this cardboard box. I liked that the pictures showed the different ways the bunny saw the box in his own mind. I did not like that the lines were so harsh and dark, and there were hardly any color in the pictures. The red showed what the bunny saw in his...more
This was totally a hit with my kindergarten students. A bunny has a box but uses it to imagine a race car, climb a mountain, and rocket to the moon. Antointte Portis uses red lines to show the bunny's imagination, which is a perfect delineation for my kindergarten students.

I gave my students a bunny and box to design their own Not A Box. They had great ideas but it was hard for some of them to translate their ideas into a picture that reflected Portis style.
When my six-year old read this to his little brother, he laughed his head off. He LOVED it!
Not a box teaches us that a box is not a box, it's a rocket ship, a race car, a mountain peak and so much more. This book teaches of the power of imagination without once mentioning imagination, simply showing the rabbit on his adventures with his "not a box."
Wonderful book!
People either "get" this one and love it and don't and hate it. A simple story and illustrations packaged in a box of a book. Read it for yourself and see. It could be used for PSHE and RE with Nursery to yr 6.
One of my favorite things to do is interview children about what their box could be. I get the most inspiring, creative ideas. Excellent activity to implement in a classroom of children at any age.
Martin Hunter
Not a box by Antoinette Portis perfectly captures the events that can only occur when a small child is given a large box and left to use their own imagination. This book is aimed at younger readers.

The drawings are very simple and each time you turn the page to see what the rabbit is doing with his box, the child can answer the question themselves because there is no answer written on the page. This is ideal because it perfectly demonstrates a child's imagination with a simple box and some deter...more
Stephanie Do rego
it was cute, the kids enjoyed it.
Sep 11, 2008 Megan marked it as kid-books
It's so... conceptual.
Jack Kirby and the X-man
Impecable design. The cover looks and feels like a cardboard box, the weight and "this side up" add to the feel.

The inspiration for this story is great - work off the grand tradition of the kids liking the packaging more than the gift itself.

The illustrations are superb - simple bold lines with a limited colour palette which nevertheless evoke the imagination. As such this is a great book to promote what comes naturally to kids - fantastic imaginations and fun play.

To take this from a technicall...more
Leslie Bardo
This book is an interactive story of a bunny that has a box, for which the narrator asks what he or she is doing with the box. The bunny replies every time with what he or she imagines it is- a race car, a mountain, a building on fire, a robot, a pirate ship, a hot air balloon, a steamboat, a rocketship, etc. This book was so cute and well done that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The cover is made of cardboard material so that even the book seems like it could be made out of a box. The illustr...more
Janna Gifford
Not a box by Antoinette Portis is a picturebook that targets the nursery age group for children that has won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book award. This book is about a rabbit sitting in a box but to the rabbit it is not just a box. Throughout the book, the rabbit is not just in a cardboard box but in a race car or it’s a building on fire and he is putting out the fire. I gave this book five stars because of the simplicity of the pictures but the creativity of the plot. This book is wrapped...more
Summary: In bold, unornamented line drawings of a rabbit and a box, the author-illustrator offers a paean to the time-honored imaginative play of young children who can turn a cardboard box into whatever their creativity can conjure. Through a series of paired questions and answers, the rabbit is queried about why he is sitting in, standing on, spraying, or wearing a box. Each time, he insists, "It's not a box!" and the opposite page reveals the many things a small child's pretending can make of...more
Emma (Miss Print)
You know how young children will sometimes receive a super amazing fantastic gift and proceed to derive much more enjoyment from the cardboard box the gift came in? Well, according to Antoinette Portis' 2006 book Not a Box, young rabbits do that to. (So do cats, but that is neither here nor there.)

There are a lot of reasons I enjoy this book, the first of which is because of its design. The book looks like a box (even though it's not). The cover is made of brown-cardboard-feeling paper. The weig...more
This controlled vocabulary picture book makes a perfect storytime selection for preschoolers, as they follow along with a bunny's playtime. By the end of the book, the audience will be responding along, "It's not a box!" The simple line drawings are a perfect accompaniment to the text, showing the outline of the box overlayed with whatever the little rabbit's imagination can envision. An ALA Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book for 2007.

SPL Summary: "To an imaginative bunny, a box is not always just...more
Let me begin by saying this is one of my favorite books ever. It’s a strong statement, to be sure, but I mean it. This book is so simple that it’s genius. The design complements the story and vice versa, in a nicely done story for kids.

This book has two “characters”: the narrator or questioner and the bunny with the active imagination. The bunny has found himself a box which he imagines to be all sorts of things like a race car, space ship, a mountain, and more. Every time the questioner sees th...more
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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.
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