If you’re looking to pull the plug on electronic toys at home, read aloud “What To Do With A Box”. Then follow illustrator Chris Sheban’s lead, and watch your child’s imagination light-up. No batteries or charger required!
Two children get creative with cardboard boxes, turning discarded packaging into a pretend library, palace, and scenes for make-believe adventures.
“A box! A box
is a wonder indeed.
The only such magic
Simple rhyming text coupled with brilliant illustrations, will surely trigger innovative thinking long after you turn the last page.
Find “What To Do With A Box” in your school or library, or order online here!
Read and Explore
- Author, Jane Yolen, has written over 300 books and has been called America’s Hans Christian Andersen.
- Artist, Chris Sheban, has won a total of 6 medals from The Society of Illustrators in New York.
- Chris’s illustrations were done on boxes he collected from local businesses and dumpsters. He drew on both smooth and corrugated surfaces, leaving the packing tape, rips and postage markings intact, adding interest to the story.
“I was looking for boxes with character, not just a pristine piece of cardboard.”
- The book starts off with an illustration Chris made on an egg box that he found at the back of a Sunset Foods grocery store near his home in Illinois. Find clues in the picture that Chris used an egg shipper.
- The illustrations were done with colored pencils and opaque water color paint called “gouache”.
- It was “tricky” finding cardboard that Chris could work with. Some boxes had a coating that didn’t take the color while other cardboard he found was “super absorbent so it was like painting on a paper towel.”
- More inspiration for repurposing boxes at home:
Ask your child:
- On the first page a dog is looking at a big box. Why is the dog so intent? What do you think is inside? (open ended)
- What rhymes with box? (fox, lox)
- Find a used shipping box and compare the markings that also appear in the drawings throughout “What To Do With A Box.” (brown tape, clear tape, bar code, etc.)
- Why does one illustration have a box label that reads “CAUTION: STORE IN COOL…” ? (The rest of the sentence was probably “store in a cool place.” The box may have contained food.)
- What is a “nook” ? (A quiet corner or place to think, read, hide etc.)
- One illustration has an upside down marking that reads, “Please recycle this container.” What does recycle mean? (Reuse the box material)
- “You can sail in that box off to Paris and back.” Where is Paris? (Paris is a city in France and home to the Eiffel Tower. Show your child where you live on a world map, where France is and the ocean between the two.)
- What does “corrugated recycles” mean? (1.”Corrugated” refers to cardboard that is made of 3 layers to make it stronger. Look for the layer of fluted paper glued in between two sheets of flat paper. 2."Corrugated Recycles" refers to the worldwide symbol found on boxes meaning, “this container can and should be recycled.”)
- On the last page of the book is a green arrow on the box with writing, “This end up". Why would a box have directions written on it? (Some things that are shipped may break or tip over if you put them upside down. Example: refrigerator)
Look at the unedited version of Chris's THE END page above. Here you can see white shading on either side of the box to create dimension.
In the published version, both sides of the image have been cropped. You can't see the white shading in the book.
- Show your little one how Chris played with spelling to write "The End".
- Point to the white background and painted dark holes along the flap edges. Chris drew the box by coloring in the negative space around the green arrow and lettering. WOW
- Try engaging older siblings to draw a picture of a small box around existing markings on a box you find at home. Refer to Chris's above illustration as a visual guide.
- Ask your child to list 10 things to make out of a shoe box. Better yet, give your child a shoe box after reading this book.
Email us a picture of your child’s recycled box art/creation to be published in a future post and shared with our online community of families and educators.
If you’re not already on board, sign up below to receive free Little Kids’ Book Club titles, conversation starters and activities, no more than twice a month.
Coming soon to your inbox...fun with Larry The Lawnmower, written and illustrated by 2 local Rhode Islanders.
Julie E. Janson & Caryl Frankenberger, Ed.M.