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I love anything published by the New York Review Children’s Collection (here’s looking at you, Jenny Linsky), but this one nearly charmed me right off my stool as I sat in City Lights Books in San Francisco on a recent trip. What better place to be smitten, and what better book to get the job done?  It’s wondrous, hilarious and unapologetically absurd.

Using his imagination, a rabbit turns a cardboard box into a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a robot, and countless other things. An unidentified voice questions him with “Why are you sitting in a box?” and “Why are you squirting a box?” much to rabbit’s annoyance, who repeatedly responds, “It’s not a box!”

A unique charmer with a knowing wink to box-loving imaginative children everywhere. The carefully chosen, limited color palette of black, white, brown, red and yellow and simple line drawings prove that it doesn’t take much to be pleasing. The cardboard cover stands out on the shelf and beckons hands to reach for it.

Young Shau-yu turns a simple errand into a magically imaginative adventure. On her way to buy eggs, she follows a cat’s shadow, peers through a blue marble, crunches leaves and makes her world blurry with a found pair of eyeglasses. She returns home to her loving father, having had, “such a busy day.”

This book is a triumph in its quiet brilliance. Though the color palate is muted earth tones and the story is modest in its every-day-ness, it brims with life and magic. The artist’s perspectives are fresh and unexpected: Shau-yu is able to follow a cat’s shadow which is cast on the ground—the cat is walking on a roof, so it appears that Shau-yu is teetering on the edge as well. When she looks through the blue marble, the world, “becomes a big blue ocean”—awash in a gorgeous tone.  Pure, delightful and utterly charming.

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