Thursday, August 12, 2010


Alice McLerran 1991
illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Oh Roxaboxen. I can not read you without a tremor in my voice. ‘Grey haired Charles…” Based on the true stories of former Roxaboxenites, the imagination of children comes alive in this desert town where they make roads and houses of stones and glass. I have read it so many times, and yet without a doubt that familiar lump forms in my throat at the very first page. Margaux will know what I mean.

Of course all of Marian's sisters came:
Anna May and Frances and little Jean.
Charles from next door, even though he was twelve.
Oh, and Eleanor, naturally,
and Jamie with his brother Paul.
Later on there were others, but these were the first.

Well, not really the first.
Roxaboxen had always been there
and must have belonged to others, long before.

A town of Roxaboxen began to grow, traced in lines of stone:
Main Street first, edged with the whitest ones,
and then the houses.
Charles made his of the biggest stones.
After all, he was the oldest.
At first the houses were very plain, but soon they all began to add more rooms.
The old wooden boxes could be shelves or tables or anything you wanted.
You could find pieces of pottery for dishes.
Round pieces were the best.

Everybody had a car.
All you needed was something round for a steering wheel.
Of course, if you broke the speed limit you had to go to jail.
The jail had cactus on the floor to make it uncomfortable,
and Jamie was the policeman.
Anna May, quiet little Anna May, was always speeding-
you'd think she liked to go to jail.

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