Marvelous Picture Books- "The Secret Box" by: Barbara Lehman

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This adventure picture book takes hold of its reader in the first few pages. The only words that are provided are on the opening sleeve of the book:

“Times change. Cities may grow large. Summers may come and go. And people might grow old, but the one thing that always remains the same is the desire for adventure.”

Although very simple this message is extremely powerful throughout this entire book. The story takes place in a city and the readers get to experience the changes of the city’s structure through a box of secret souvenirs left by a boy. The book begins with the young boy leaving the box in the attic of the school or orphanage. Then after what looks like a few years passing, some children in the school find the box. The children follow the maps and pictures and find a secret tunnel that takes them through time and to the final destination of Seaside Park. The children not only find the park but they also find the original owner of the box who takes them to a room full of children from all different generations of time. The adventure starts all over again when two new kids find the box in the same place some years later.

My favorite part of reading this book was that I felt as if I was experiencing the changes and evolutions of the city while they were happening. The orphanage or school is one of two pieces of architecture that stay the same while the rest of the rural farmland quickly evolves into a lively modern city. The message that I got from the book was that children still need adventure, and adventure that takes them out and about in the world around them. Today times are changing and children are less and less likely to find entertainment from playing outside; but even as technology takes over I think the message Lehman’s message is very strong that all children should keep their imaginations flowing by playing outside in the world that surrounds them.

I would recommend this book for children between the ages of 4-10. I think older children would really enjoy this book because they might be able to figure out the story line on their own. However, I still think younger children would find this book mesmerizing because of the pictures that take the reader into the children’s adventure through time in the city around them.

Happy Reading!

Paige Cahill

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2 responses »

  1. This is a great book told through pictures! I really enjoyed your review of this book. You really picked up on the important points of the book and the sense of adventure it encourages.

  2. Paige, what an interesting book! It sounds like a cool way to also introduce children to historical contexts and how they can relate to children in the past. Sounds like a great book, thanks!

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