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4.42  ·  Rating details ·  5,629 ratings  ·  377 reviews
From two-time Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Barbara Cooney and celebrated children’s book author Alice McLerran comes Roxaboxen, a treasured story about the magic of a child’s imagination. 

Marian called it Roxaboxen. There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill—nothing but sand and rocks, and some old wooden boxes. But it was a special place. And all children
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published April 22nd 1991)
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Zoe Probably children's fiction.…moreProbably children's fiction.(less)

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Average rating 4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,629 ratings  ·  377 reviews

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Jun 04, 2012 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. ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of imaginative play
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Shelves: picture-books
A wonderful story about some children who make up a land of their own and call it Roxaboxen. They make streets out of rows of pebbles and use boxes for beds and tables. Soon shops, horses and a whole society evolves with a mayor, policeman and as much icecream as you can eat. Beautiful book about childhood imagination and how it seems that the less you have to play with the better the imagination is. This book takes you back to the magic of made up games and worlds you enjoyed in your childhood. ...more
Apr 26, 2009 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 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
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Jul 07, 2010 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 (not getting friends updates) 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
Skylar Burris
Jul 14, 2009 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. ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for Stories About Imaginative Play / Barbara Cooney Fans
This delightfully nostalgic tale really brought me back to my own childhood, when I constructed entire worlds in my imaginary play, with my own country (Arcania) that had its own language and history. The old carriage house in our back-yard was alternately a castle, a prison, or a mountain (I vividly recall the day I almost rolled off the roof, onto the jagged rocks beneath), while the little wooded area beside it was a forest, and the little valley with the tulip tree an elfin glen. Children, w ...more
Jan 15, 2011 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
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidstuff
Wow! The memories this one brought back . . .

The empty lot across from my friend Linda's house, approaching dusk, we used sticks to outline the rooms of our "mansion," and milkweed pod "candles" to light the hallways. Chilly autumn air. Going into the warm house afterward to the smell of my mother baking my favorite cookies.

If I could have just one day to go back and do it all again . . .
Brigid ✩
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. ...more
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Imaginative play. Out-of-doors. I bet that a small percentage of kids in today's world have the opportunity for such a wonderful experience. This story may give them some ideas for their own play. I don't read the last pages to the younger kids; it's not of interest to them. We end with:

"And so it went.
The seasons changed, and the years went by.
Roxaboxen was always there."
Aug 22, 2011 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. ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this little tale of a group of kids and their imaginative play.
Friend of Pixie
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 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 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
Mar 01, 2010 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. ...more
Jul 31, 2014 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. ...more
Margot Dushin
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
New favorite bedtime book. Favorite line read together: "In Roxaboxen you can eat all the ice cream you want." ...more
Ms. B
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture, classics, 2000s
I loved this story about a group of children who create an imaginary city.
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: ROXABOXEN by Alice McLerran and Barbara Cooney, ill., William Morrow/Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1991, 32p., ISBN: 0-688-07592-4

“Our house is a very very very fine house”
-- Graham Nash (1970)

“Unstructured play allows children the freedom to explore, create and discover without predetermined rules or guidelines. It’s been shown to foster cognitive development while boosting physical development and social and emotional development. It specifically helps creativity and imaginatio
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My kids loved this and immediately started building their own Roxaboxen outside in our woods!❤️
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
And so it went.
The seasons changed, and the years went by.
Roxaboxen was always there.
Emma Refvem
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of Byron’s favs as a kid and I can see why. It is so fun and it mirrors my own childhood playground town-making adventures!
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
Emily Holter
Apr 03, 2014 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
Rosa Cline
Jan 24, 2014 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
Erin Hendrian
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that captured this time of childhood so well, written with exactly the important details that you almost had forgotten the importance of as an adult, but make it all come rushing back with joy. When Will read it to the kids he said it almost made him cry. Nostalgic, warm, and beautiful.
Destiny Zayas
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: week-2
text to teaching connection: Roxaboxen was all about using your imagination to create something out of nothing. Or at least what seemed to be nothing to others. In this book Marian and friends used rocks, sand, sticks and other objects to make a whole little town called Roxaboxen. They even had jobs and acted like they rode on horses. Even as they aged, they all still remembered Roxaboxen and how much fun it was for them. A response activity that I would do is incorporate art into the lesson. I ...more
Jan 18, 2011 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
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