FICTION
What Is Inside THIS Box?
What Is Inside THIS Box? illus. by Olivier Tallec. 56p. (Monkey & Cake: Bk. 1). Orchard. Mar. 2019. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781338143867.
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K-Gr 2—This new series stars an impish little monkey and a personified slice of cake with a cherry on top of his head. Monkey and Cake are good friends. When Cake discovers Monkey sitting on top of a box, he asks what is inside. Monkey responds that a cat is in the box, but upon further questioning admits that the cat exists only when the box is closed. To up the ante, he also states that if Cake opens the box, the cat will disappear because the cat is MAGIC. Cake, as one would expect, is incredulous. They go back and forth and appear to be heading to a stalemate when Monkey advises Cake that he can think anything he wants about what is inside the box when it is closed. This invitation to imagination is priceless, and Cake soon declares that a dinosaur is inside. The whole Socratic debate begins anew with the two friends finally coming to an agreement that they will never know what is actually inside the box. Once they exit the scene, readers see a cat peeking out, and wouldn't you know it, when we turn the page, she is accompanied by a dinosaur. Daywalt (The Day the Crayons Quit) and Tallec (This Book Will Not Be Fun) have crafted a delightful, philosophical romp that will please and intrigue beginning readers. The end of the book contains several questions for children to ponder, which will prompt discussion and imaginative play. A nod to Schrödinger's cat is included for all quantum mechanics fans.
VERDICT Funny and thought-provoking. A definite purchase for beginning reader collections.

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