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4.40  ·  Rating details ·  5,066 ratings  ·  318 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 Roxboxen. 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 n
Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by HarperCollins (first published 1991)
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4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,066 ratings  ·  318 reviews

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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 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.
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
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.
Lisa 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 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
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of imaginative play
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa Vegan
Shelves: picture-books
Lovely 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. The afterword is so poignant, I can't imagine how that would feel going back and seeing the things sh ...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.
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
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.
Friend of Pixie (F.O.P.)
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book, to-buy
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.
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.
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 type of 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."
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."
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
Fumi Agboola
Apr 22, 2018 added it
Shelves: elm-335
ADVENTURE: This book is great way to ignite student's imagination. Marian and her friends find a special place in the desert where they can play games and have fun. They make pretend houses, drive cares, bake, and bury the dead. I would use this book in my future classroom because it would make a great read aloud book for students because I'm sure students can relate to how the characters in the book make up their own games and stories. In addition, I think it would be a fun book to encourage my ...more
David Goetz
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Of all the books Barbara Cooney has illustrated, this one probably has my favorite text. McLerran does a wonderful job describing the desert town of the children in luminous yet perfectly restrained prose. Cooney's illustrations are not her greatest (for my money, that's Ox-Cart Man ), but there's definitely some beautiful work here. One of my favorite stories to read to my girls.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely story celebrating children's power of imagination to transform a rocky area into a whole world of play. I went looking for the area in Yuma, AZ in Google street view and was pleased to see that the corner has been preserved as an open play space for kids' imaginations.
Jul 25, 2017 added it
In college now but I read this as a child and thought of it the other day when walking around my old elementary school. I can still remember trying to make my own Roxaboxen with my friends at the playground. Like the kids in the story, I won't forget about Roxaboxen and plan on sharing the story with my own children someday.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely spot on. It brought back memories that I had almost forgotten about.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pic, favorites
I love this book so much!
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book inspires me to encourage my children to build an imaginary places and look for possibilities in discarded thngs...the illustrations are perfect for the text. And the style of writing makes me feel like I'm sitting by my grandma, listening to her spin tales of her childhood.
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
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
Oct 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
When and why did I reserve this book? It came in for me with no memory associated with it. Regardless, I love it. Recommended for anyone who has ever created an imaginary place, plots, and characters, especially as a child. When little ones who understand "Not a Box" and "Not a Stick" get older, they'll be making their own Roxaboxens. This charming book also has its little bit of heartbreak ("until at last the friends had all grown tall"). Would be good for one-on-one readaloud.
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