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4.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,626 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
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: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 11, 2012 Miriam rated it liked it
Recommends it for: happy people
Shelves: picture

Don't be misled by my rating, this really is a good book. The illustrations, while not the best I've ever seen from Cooney, are reliably high in quality, and McLerran's prose captures the voice of her elderly relative recounting their childhood games.

My failure to enjoy the book more is rooted in my personal dissatisfaction with where my life has taken me and my regrets over lost opportunities and wasted potential. I can see objectively that the book is meant to evoke a pleasant nostalgia, but
Jun 24, 2009 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book five stars because I was tearing up by the end of it! There was nothing really amazing about the style of writing, and yet the story itself (and the splendid illustrations) really struck a chord with me, resounding back to my own sense of play as a child and bringing forth a certain nostalgia... Even though I have my own dear home now, a "real" home, part of me still longs for the day when I would find stones and sticks and bits of this and that and craft my own little "hous ...more
Jun 04, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This was my favorite book as a child. Granted, I'm completely biased because it's about my great-grandmother, Anna May, and her sisters, and the author is my cousin.
Lisa Vegan
Jul 13, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all children, and those who remember their childhoods, or need a reminder
Recommended to Lisa by: Chandra
Ah, nostalgia! This book really got to me. I remember using a stick as a horse, a box or a table with blanket as a fort, and, with a group of other kids inventing all sorts of games (my childhood favorite we called chase). The fact that at the end of the book, there’s a note that indicates this is historical fiction: there was a Roxaboxen, a place where the author’s mother played. The fact that she turned her mother’s play activity years before into a book is just so cool, and also wonderful is ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Ptreick rated it it was amazing
A few years ago I had my creative writing classes write a children's story, and since it had been 30 or so years since I'd picked up any sort of children's book, I enlisted my mom for help. An elementary teacher, she has her pulse on good books, book order books, etc. And she said, What about Roxaboxen? I can't even tell you how much I love this book. Whenever I read it, I cry. (Embarrassing when reading to a group of teenagers.) It's all the best of childhood in a slim picture book. A few weeks ...more
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Wait what, have I never rated/reviewed this? *Gasp* This was pretty much my favorite book ever when I was a kid. It's really sweet and beautifully written/illustrated. It's still one of my favorite books to this day.
Skylar Burris
Jul 14, 2009 Skylar Burris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
My daughter liked this book enough to ask me to read it two times, but I'm the one who really likes it. It gives me sentimental chills. This nostalgic tale of childhood is something I could relate to, but my daughter could also relate to it quite well, which goes to show that as much as things have changed in the past generation, some universal truths of childhood never change.
Jan 03, 2011 Logan rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-buy, picture-book
Logan (age 6.5) liked this book (3 stars) and I absolutely loved it (5 stars); hence the 4 stars. I so enjoy Cooney's ilustrations in any book, and this is no exception. It's a simple story, without much action. A group of neighborhood kids in what looks to be the 1920s create a community they call Roxaboxen (no doubt from the fact that it's made up mostly of rocks and boxes) on a hill in their SW desert neighborhood. There are houses and stores (outlined in white rocks or "desert glass"), a may ...more
Stephanie Hall
Feb 05, 2014 Stephanie Hall rated it it was amazing
Roxaboxen was and still is one of my favourite children's books.
I was three when it was published, and have been reading it (or had it read to me) for as long as I remember.
Everything about this story captured and fueled my imagination: its wonderful reflective narrative; the beautiful, almost ghostly, artwork; the way it felt so true yet maintained a sense of wonder, that it seemed to fuse objective recall with the subjective magic of memories.
I always loved the way this book transported me and
Christine Woo
Mar 07, 2014 Christine Woo rated it it was amazing
Everytime I read this, it juat brings me back to my childhood! Me and my brothers and cousins all grew up together, and out games turned out a lot like this. This was also my most favorite book as a kid. Whenever I saw it I would read it over and over and over again. It was to the point that in fourth or fifth grade I actually took it from our class bookshelf. My teacher never noticed (it kinda made me feel like a bad arse at the time) but eventually it faded and I couldn't remember what happene ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Skip rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Much like The Egypt Game, but written for a younger audience, this is a kid's picture book that harkens back to a time when kids used their imaginations to play games, rather than a computer program and game player. Decent illustrations. I did not love this book as much as my GR friends, Brigid and Nenia.
Mar 01, 2010 Trin rated it it was amazing
Remember playing make-believe? With some sticks and some pebbles and a scrap of cloth, you could create whole worlds. That's what the children in Roxaboxen do: running wild in the desert--its fiery colors alive in Cooney's illustrations--they construct a village, a kingdom, a perfectly imperfect paradise. This is the book that really opened my mind to what the imagination can do. I can still close my eyes and see the desert glass glowing in the twilight.
Emily Holter
Apr 06, 2014 Emily Holter rated it really liked it
Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, was a story that I enjoyed reading. It tells of an area across the street, where all the neighborhood kids played. They named the area "Roxaboxen." It was just like any rocky hill, filled with sand, rocks, and some wooden boxes. There, the neighborhood kids' imaginations were able to come out. They played there all the time, creating houses out of stones. They would make furniture out of the boxes, too. They eventually expanded their imaginative play into creating a ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Justin rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading this to my class at the beginning of the year. It's about using your imagination to find a special place. I want our classroom to be a special place.
Margot Dushin
Oct 02, 2012 Margot Dushin rated it it was amazing
New favorite bedtime book. Favorite line read together: "In Roxaboxen you can eat all the ice cream you want."
Rosa Cline
Jan 24, 2014 Rosa Cline rated it did not like it
Although this is a children's book I'm not placing it in my 'kids' shelf. It wasn't much of a kids story in my opinion. It was more of a 'memory' of an adult talking about using their imagination with their siblings and neighborhood friends. As youth they lived by the seashore, and they had a 'hill' where there were lots of seashells, rocks, etc. They used their imaginations and made a neighborhood and had adventures. Driving cars (which could be done with anything round for a steering wheel) ri ...more
Jan 18, 2011 Dorothea rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
This is the story of a pretend world created by children living out in a more desert type landscape. They use the things in nature to build their houses and pretend city.

I had a hard time rating this one. I really liked the concept. I enjoyed the way the story whisked my imagination away into the children's pretend world. I think the artwork wasn't my absolute favorite. Nice, but not my favorite. It did bring me back to my own childhood. I lived closer to nature than I do now and had more of th
Jun 29, 2008 Virginia rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
Children don't need toys. At least not the ones that come from stores. That's the message of this book.

The best toys and games are the ones that use the imagination. This little group of kids demonstrated this perfectly. This book reads like a memoir of their imaginative play, and it's not hard to believe that adults that had enjoyed this kind of ongoing pretend for so long would remember well, decades later, all of its contours and particulars.
Mar 14, 2013 Chibivy rated it really liked it
A nice and touching children's story. A charming story of friendship and childhood memories that stood the test of time. Heart-warming. I almost cried when I flipped the last page. Nice illustrations too. I'd definitely read this to my [future] kid(s).
Jennifer Strong
Jan 29, 2016 Jennifer Strong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, 2016
What a beautiful book about the wonderful things children create when they use their imagination! A neighborhood of children imagine their own little town, with streets lined with white rocks, houses built out of sea glass, and shops to buy ice cream, among other things!

I love that this imaginary place is based on an actual imaginary place! The author's mother and aunt were the first inhabitants of Roxaboxen. The fact that stories of their adventures were passed down to the next generation (and
Linda Lipko
Harken back to the days of childhood when summer days were magical and began at sun up ending when the fireflies lit the sky in the darkened evening. Marian looked at a rocky hill and envisioned a special place of play.

As neighborhood children joined the dream, each made their own space, a space called home bordered by white stones, or shiny glass desert gems culled from the earth. The magic included two ice creams shops. Make believe horses raced in the wind as children ran with long sticks fas
Jun 21, 2008 Chrissy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Children, Teachers, Parents
Recommended to Chrissy by: School Librarian
Shelves: kids-books
This is a wonderful book and it was a huge hit in my classroom! We read it during a unit on "community" and then used it to inspire some creative hands on projects. It is a book I would recommend to all parents and teachers.
Oct 12, 2015 Cathy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 3-4th graders
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: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where all you need to gallop fast and free is a long stick and a soaring imagination.

In glowing desert hues, artist Barbara Cooney
Apr 11, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. The idea of creating an imaginary world out of nothing isn't a new one, but the way this is told and the beautiful illustrations are worth the time to find it and read it - by yourself or with children.

It had been built up to me as a SUPER AMAZING AND MANDATORY BOOK OF CHILDHOOD. And it was good. Very good.

But I think I let the hype carry my expectations too high.

So I won't build up your expectations. I will just say it was good. And my children have referred to it on their
Robin Gaphni
Oct 25, 2009 Robin Gaphni rated it it was amazing
I spent last weekend in Santa Fe, which reminded me so much of the beautiful Arizona desert I grew up in. This got me thinking about one of my family's favorite picture books: Roxaboxen. Roxaboxen is a celebration of the imaginary world that children often live in, and a great reminder to adults that sometimes all a child needs is the chance to play outdoors.

Roxaboxen takes place in a desert where, at first glance, the landscape appears to be quite bare. But it is not bare to the children who li
Sep 23, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
This was a delightful book we got from the library. Roxaboxen is a magical place for this group of kids - its actually a vacant lot across the street. But this group of kids has all kinds of adventures there! they build homes out of floored glass and found materials. basically this book very much captures the imagination of primary schoolers- I definitely remember plotting out a square of schoolyard to contain my treasures; adding to it all year long.

My 6 year old loved it: "Mommy- I wish I live
A magical book ... for me, the parent! Evokes so many sensations, pictures, smells. The title page immediately took me to Anza Borrego Desert, a California State Park, at the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains. This is where I first experienced the pittoresque ocotillo plants and other colorful cacti in bloom. Subsequent pages made my mind wonder out to New Mexico, Santa Fe, and suddenly I was thinking of Georgia O'Keeffe. It's not that Barbara Cooney's drawing style is all that similar, but ...more
Jazmine Shoup
Feb 07, 2012 Jazmine Shoup rated it it was amazing
Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, is a creatively constructed children's picture story full of imagination and intrigue. The story centers around the make believe world "Roxaboxen" that young children in the same neighborhood create together. "A town of Roxaboxen began to grow, traced in lines of stone: Main Street first, edged with the whitest ones, and then the houses." This imaginary town was constructed out of stones and elements in nature that the children had simple and free access to. The chi ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Lindsay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I had always looked at the cover of this book and thought it looked too simple to be interesting or exciting. However, after reading this story, I've found that the simplistic nature of the story is what makes it so special. This story illustrates how easily a child can turn something extremely ordinary, even somewhat bland, into an extraordinary and fascinating wonder. I love that this story takes place in Arizona, a place my students can picture and connect to. Another charming element in this ...more
Amy Forrester
Oct 31, 2012 Amy Forrester rated it it was amazing
“Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything).”

What’s a Roxaboxen you might ask? It may have looked like a rocky hill in the desert covered with sand and rocks, old wooden boxes, cactus and thorny ocotillo, but Roxaboxen was always there, waiting for children to find it. Marian and her friends dug up round black pebbles and these became the currency of the town of Roxaboxen. Marian was the mayor, of course, and everyone helped to line Main Street with white stones. Along
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