Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, $15.99, 42 pages
Long ago, a boy hid a box under the floorboards of his yellow house. As people and things changed, the box waited to be found. In her book The Secret Box, author Barbara Lehman tells a timeless story of discovery that children of all ages will enjoy, especially beginning readers. The book has no words, just beautiful illustrations made from watercolor, gouache, and ink. The story begins with a panoramic view of the boy’s neighborhood. It’s a rural landscape with a horse and buggy and farmland as far as the eye can see. The next page pictures the same community, but now there is a factory and a railroad. Another picture reveals a modern city and students playing in the yard near the yellow house. Three kids discover the secret box and find a map that leads them to a special place. What awaits them?
Parents and teachers can have kids compare and contrast the changes in the illustrations over time. Lehman is a Caldecott award winner. This book captures the magic of childhood and reinforces the idea that though times change, people and places remain connected.
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin