FICTION
Box
Top Shelf Productions. (Box: Bk. 1). Jun. 2019. 72p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781603094498.
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Gr 3-5–Matthew, a young boy with copper-toned hair, is delighted to find an empty cardboard box on the side of the road. His plans to use the box for his DIY space station quickly evaporate when his new discovery reveals itself to be a sentient object, formerly a sorcerer’s toolbox. Box tells Matthew that he left the sorcerer, having been overlooked for more magical methods of building. When Matthew’s parents see Box, they are stunned into a stupor. To wake them, Box brings the boy to the sorcerer’s home; they must mend the sorcerer’s wand before he can create a remedy. The story is underdeveloped, with lost opportunities for Matthew to gain confidence in his own skills, and there’s a lack of explanation for many plot points. Still, middle grade readers are sure to love Box, whose overconfidence and haphazard tactics lead to amusing outcomes. Heidschötter’s sketchlike linework and rich palette combine for appealing illustrations reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons. The characters’ expressive faces and Box’s large, emotive eyes convey depth where the pencil-style lettered text is lacking.

VERDICT Heidschötter’s artwork carries a weakly plotted story. An additional purchase where middle grade graphic novels are popular.

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