Summer is here and our world again revolves around long days outdoors, exploring in the woods, in the hills, down by the river, and out into fields and other unknown places. Zeal is a forever collector of sticks and rocks and other nature items, so much so that he often has them hiding underneath his seat in the car and has at least a few places in the yard where he keeps and categorizes them for easier future use.
So we were pulling out our summer books the other day, and came across this one. We gave a collective sigh of love when we remembered this old favorite, the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney (who also wrote the very lovely Miss Rumphius). This book alone has been a huge source of inspiration and play and imagination for both of us. We highly recommend it!
Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say about it:
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 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.