This slim German import is a fun, imaginative romp with magic, humor, and a talking box!

Matthew, a red-haired, snub-nosed white boy, loves to build things. He’s thrilled when he finds a box outside the gate and brings it inside to complete his space station. And then it speaks to him! Turns out that Box is much more than just a box—he’s a toolbox for a wizard and so, of course, he can talk and produce any tool and make anything. Maybe that last one is mostly in his own mind… Still, the two have a lot of fun, until Matthew’s parents grow suspicious. Matthew is happy to show them his new friend and their contraptions, but Box forgot to tell Matthew what would happen if his parents saw him! Now Matthew has to make a desperate journey to the sorcerer Box used to belong to, to see if he can revive his parents. But are there other things Box isn’t telling him?

Heidschötter works with studio Laika, among other animation studios, and his quirky style is a good fit for this light-hearted little book. Box is a squishy cardboard square with bobbing, open flaps, a big nose, and excited eyes. His arms and legs are quick lines that zip about to grab tools, gesture, and flail wildly in emergencies (of which there are many). Matthew is an untidy boy, with muddy boots, jacket, and a cheerful red cowlick. Throughout the twists and turns in the story, he navigates everything with a smile, rolled eyes, or determined expression. All of the humans have long, slightly crooked noses and a shading of red across their cheeks and ears. The contraptions aren’t shown in detail, just enough to get a feeling of how complicated (and likely to break) they are.

Despite the building of suspense, this is actually a pretty simple and gentle story. Each little crisis is quickly resolved and there’s a happy, and magical, ending. There are plenty of suggestions to get kids building and making, even if they don’t have a magical box friend, but it’s also just a fun story to zip through. It’s labeled 1, implying there will be more adventures with the magical Box, but the story doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. At 70 pages it’s a quick read and, if not particularly memorable, will attract readers who just can’t get enough graphic novels.

Box, vol. 1
By Patrick Wirbeleit
Art by Uwe Heidschötter
ISBN: 9781603094498
Top Shelf, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: grades K-4

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library

    Reviewer

    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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