by Alice McLerran

Other authorsBarbara Cooney (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1992



Call number




Puffin USA (1992), 32 pages


A hill covered with rocks and wooden boxes becomes an imaginary town for Marian, her sisters, and their friends.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
This delightfully nostalgic tale really brought me back to my own childhood, when I constructed entire worlds in my imaginary play, with my own country (Arcania) that had its own language and history. The old carriage house in our back-yard was alternately a castle, a prison, or a mountain (I
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vividly recall the day I almost rolled off the roof, onto the jagged rocks beneath), while the little wooded area beside it was a forest, and the little valley with the tulip tree an elfin glen. Children, when left to their own devices - which, if it can be safely managed, I strongly believe should be done at least some of the time - have incredibly rich inner lives, and will use whatever materials and locations are to hand, in constructing those lives.

This is something that Alice McLerran, who based her story on a real neighborhood "playground" created by her mother, and her mother's sisters and friends, understands. Roxaboxen is a tribute to that disappeared playground - initially, just a local hill with a bunch of rocks and broken boxes on it - and to the many hours of enjoyment the neighborhood children got out of it, creating their own "town," with houses and shops. Who hasn't played "pretend pony," as the children do here? Or gone into business, and "set up shop?" These common childhood games are brilliantly captured here, both by McLerran's narrative, and by Barbara Cooney's appealing illustrations. Highly, highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member cheddali
This book is absolutely beautiful! From the story to the illustrations to the warm feelings you get as you read it to your little ones. Thanks so Sarah McKenzie at the RAR for recommending it!
LibraryThing member neverstopreading
As an adult reading this today with my son, I felt some sad nostalgia for children who have lost their childhood because they never had it. More and more imagination is being replaced with video and prepackaged images such that it's just a given. I think there's something to be said for a life
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without these, but unless you want to be Amish (not bashing the Amish), that's damn near impossible, for here I am writing this on a computer.
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LibraryThing member Jenlovely
This book is about a special place that all the neighborhood kids came to play at where they turned ordinary rocks, trees, and other found treasures into a make-believe town. The town operated much like a real town with officials, stores, and even money. The streets are lined with homes and
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storefronts made by the inhabitants. There is even a jail and a cemetary. As the children grow, the town remains there but is less occupied. When all the children have left the remnants of their fun remain. This book is one of my children's all time favorites! My children still like to play Roxaboxen and try to recreate what is in this wonderful story!
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LibraryThing member Leshauck
The book is designed for older grades. Its hard to follow but good in teaching rhymes. Grades 7-8
LibraryThing member GeniusBabies
A book that was written more for the current adults who created Roxaboxen than for current kids. This is the tale of a bunch of kids in the South West who create a play-town. The book discusses more of the managerial aspects of the town rather than a particular quest or story, which limits the
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amount it engages the audience.
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LibraryThing member rissa
This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I had it read to me so many times that it literally fell apart and we had to buy a new copy. I always loved Roxaboxen, the imagery, the story, and the illustrations will always be dear to my heart.
LibraryThing member PLloggerC
This wonderful picture book takes me back to the days when I spent time with my childhood friends playing outside in the woods and empty lots of my neighborhoods. Teams and clubs were formed, leaders chosen, laws and rules were made that everyone in our "world" had to abide by. Roxaboxen too has
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these worlds and leaders and laws. It is full of fun and imagination. The pictures perfectly compliment the text.
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LibraryThing member MarthaL
A wonderful story of old fashion play. Children's creative outdoor play over time allows them to build their own town with house marked out with rocks and sticks. The desert vacant land where they played over 50 years ago still has the white sotmes and broken glass bordering Main street. Author's
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note indicates that the story took place in Yuma Arizona
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LibraryThing member mrsarey
This is the story of a little pretend town called Roxaboxen.
LibraryThing member conuly
This is a pretty nostalgic book about the author's mother's childhood. She and her friends made the land behind their houses into their own play area, and spent time there, year after year, making cities and fighting "wars" and eating "ice cream".

Reading this book is really like diving right into
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somebody else's make-believe world. My nieces love it, but they don't get to read it too often, as it does make me cry :) Definitely check this one out.
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LibraryThing member kcollett
Many of the books Barbara Cooney illustrates are delightful; see also Emma, Ox-Cart Man, Miss Rumphius, Letting Swift River Go (for older children).
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
The children of Roxaboxen create an imaginary world in the desert. Rocks and old boxes form houses, and sticks make horses. This would be a great story to talk about imagination and pretending with children.
LibraryThing member ashleywoody
This is a story about a group of kids from the same community that play on a hill that they named Roxaboxen. They would bake, drove cars, had a jail, and kept a cemetery that all were imaginary. This was the place where they got together and had fun and made memories of playing together.
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The story tells about the kid’s time there and about how even when they grew older- it was still a place they could go back to in their hearts.

Personal Reaction:
I thought this book was sweet, but not one of my absolute favorites. I thought it had a good story to it, but I thought the story could’ve maybe elaborated more or had better pictures.

Extension Ideas:
1) Have the class draw pictures of their own Roxaboxen, or their own place of where they could go with their friends and have fun.
2) Have the class write in their daily journal about somewhere that they like to pretend play or have fun with their friends that they think they will remember forever.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
Harken back to the days of childhood when summer days were magical and began at sun up ending when the fireflies lit the sky in the darkened evening. Marian looked at a rocky hill and envisioned a special place of play.

As neighborhood children joined the dream, each made their own space, a space
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called home bordered by white stones, or shiny glass desert gems culled from the earth. The magic included two ice creams shops. Make believe horses raced in the wind as children ran with long sticks fastened to bodies by rope.

Starting at first with a few stones, then magically each space was claimed with boxes. As the make believe community grew, they added a bakery, a fort, and finding a dead lizard, there was a need now for a cemetery.

I enjoyed this book that brought back memories from my childhood when my sisters and I and friends made a store, using a box, some grass and stones for money.
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LibraryThing member aleader
Roxaboxen tells the story of a group of children who create a town out of rocks and old boxes on a deserted hill. The children use rocks to create the streets and yards for their town. They make houses out of boxes. They even elect a mayor! Some of the children open up shops on Main Street. The
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town also has a jail and a cemetery. A lizard is buried in the cemetery. Roxaboxen shows children using their imaginations in a very creative and cooperative way. I also like the unique Sonoran desert setting.
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LibraryThing member laurenbutcher
I enjoyed this book very much and I have read it numerous times since I have first picked it up. The title "Roxaboxen" is what first lured me to read the story. I was curious as to what exactly "Roxaboxen" was. It is clearly explained as being a rocky hill that had some sand and rocks, some wooden
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boxes cactus, greasewood and thorny ocotillo. The central message of this book is to be able to embrace one's imagination and to make sure that the memories of youth are never forgotten. The children in the story used rocks to line their city and would designate areas for specific shops. Marian was the mayor and nobody minded that at all. They used anything that was round for a steering wheel because everyone in that town needed to have a car to get around. Their imagination was being used to its' full extent, but after a while, when everyone grows up and moves away, the imagination and the Roxaboxen are left in the dust. When Marian, the mayor, went back to the place and realized that even though it may be overgrown, she had never forgot it. She never let the memory of Roxaboxen die because she told her memories about that place to her children and made sure that they knew exactly how important and amazing that place was. Every character that played there as a young child went back to Roxaboxen and could see the stones, the desert glass glowing like amethyst, amber and sea-green. Embracing memories and one's imagination may be hard for some to do, but it is very important because it gives one the chance to think deeper and out of the box. This story could be a great way to help someone remember old memories and dig up any bit of imagination they may have left.
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LibraryThing member Mad.River.Librarian
A special book about the special places of childhood, when our imagination is so ripe and powerful. If only we could all go back and spend time in our own unique Roxaboxens. Luckiy, through the magic and spirit of Barbara Cooney's ilustrations, it feels as if we almost can.

Roxaboxen is always
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LibraryThing member wichitafriendsschool
Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill -- nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo -- but it was a special place: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged
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with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where all you need to gallop fast and free is a long stick and a soaring imagination.
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LibraryThing member kcolema
Nice story about what children are able to create with their imaginations. Could have students draw up their own "Roxaboxen" for an activity.
LibraryThing member ChelseaRose
This book shows the great value of imagination over costly toys. A group of children create a community called Roxaboxen, complete with streets, homes, political buildings, ice cream shops, currency, cars, horses, jails, and much more. This is based on historical, oral information gained from
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adults who had been a part of this unique community. This book is great for the kids of today who have to have the latest high tech toy or else are bored. The Roxaboxen crew remembered their creation for their whole lives, because it was so meaningful.
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Grand Canyon Reader Award (Nominee — Picture Books — 1994)
Minnesota Book Awards (Finalist — 1992)


Original language


Original publication date



0140544755 / 9780140544756

Other editions

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (Paperback)

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