Written by Brian Wray
Illustrated by Shiloh Penfield
Schiffer Kids & Pixel Mouse House 0/00/2019
32 pages Ages 0—6
Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Synopsis—Max’s parents give him a very special gift; a tiny box that will hold everything. After putting in his beloved firetruck and fluffy stuffed dog, Max discovers that the Box grows after each item is added. But that’s not all—Max’s Box also holds his feelings. When Max is angry, the anger goes straight into the box. With each feeling it stores, the larger it grows, and the larger the Box grows, the harder it is for Max to do anything. Before long, Max’s Box is so big, it holds him back from enjoying regular kid activities, like riding his bike or climbing trees. Eventually, with some very special help and a lot of imagination, Max is able to turn the Box into something beautiful and let it go. (from jacket flap)
Max had a tiny box, small enough to fit into his little hand.
“This is yours,” his mother told him.
“Everything will go into that Box,” Father added. “Small things, big things, all things.”
And he was right.
Why I like this book—Max’s Box is a beautiful book. The black and white illustrations hold a little color to pull your eye to the important subject on the page. I felt like I was looking at the artist’s sketchbook. At story’s end, the illustrations morph into full color, representing Max’s freedom. It is interesting that Max receives the box from his parents. They must have similar boxes in which they stuff their own feelings. In a sense, Max has learned this behavior from his parents.
Max is very young when he receives the box. He puts important treasures inside and each time the box grows to accommodate everything. Once in school, Max adds feelings he does not want to express. The box grows bigger with each new item or feeling placed into the box. When it gets too heavy for Max to carry, his parents enable Max further by giving him a wagon to carry the box.
When Max has stuffed so many emotions into the box, keeping it at his side becomes impossible (the box outgrew the wagon, a big sled, and the family car). He finds himself on the sidelines, unable to play with his friends. The box has stolen Max’s life. Instead of learning how to deal with his feelings, he learned to stuff them into the box. We all have a box of our own. The more we stuff into it, the more it holds us back.
Max’s Box will help kids understand why stuffing a feeling does not help us handle our emotions.* Soon the box becomes heavy and a real burden. We must find a way to release what we stuff and keep secret; else, we trap ourselves. Max and a new friend use their imaginations and creativity to help Max let go of all he has stuffed away. Finally, Max has the freedom to be a kid.
Young children will understand the concepts presented in Max’s Box. The art helps articulate Max’s situation by using only incidents children could encounter, leaving adult versions totally out of the book. Wray and Penfield understand children and should turn Max’s Box into the first of many similar books. Wray and Penfield can help children master life and the pitfalls we all encounter. Those who work with children should have Max’s Box in their office.
Favorite Quote—“It’s okay to have all kinds of feelings,” Father whispered. “But once you feel them, their job is done.”
*A back section titled, “A word about EMOTIONS” will help adults understand how to help children deal with emotions. It is a well thought out section dealing with an adult’s impulse to fix negative things in their child’s life and how doing so is not always helpful. They offer adults four ways to help a child deal with emotions and much more.
Max’s Box. Copyright © 2019 by Brian Wray. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Shiloh Penfield. Published by Schiffer Kids/Schiffer Publishing, Ltd and Pixel Mouse House, Atglen, PA.
Available at Amazon
Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved