cover image Roxaboxen


Alice McLerran. HarperCollins, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07592-7

Roxaboxen celebrates the imagination of children who, no matter the time or place, can create whole worlds out of what they find around them--here, rocks and boxes, cacti and sand. Marian and her friends find a ``special place'' in the desert where in time-honored fashion, they play the games that will prepare them for their grown-up lives. They make houses, drive pretend cars, bake bread, ride stick ponies, fight their wars and bury their dead. Drawn from her mother's reminiscences, McLerran's gentle text is both particular and universal, as she fondly tells this evocative story--``Of course, if you broke the speed limit you had to go to jail. The jail had cactus on the floor to make it uncomfortable, and Jamie was the policeman.'' With its gently rolling terrain, blossoming ocotillos and cacti, and vast skies of ever-changing hues, Cooney's ( Hattie and the Wild Waves ; Island Boy ) desert is a wondrous and beauteous place. The doll-like children in their knickers and sailor dresses emphasize the timelessness of this place where ``seasons changed, and the years went by but Roxaboxen was always there.'' Ages 5-8. (Apr.)