Now Open the Box
Author: Dorothy Kunhardt
Published: August 20th, 2013 by NYR Children’s Collection (First published: 1934)
GoodReads Summary: Peewee’s in the box! Peewee the dog doesn’t know any tricks, “not a single one not even how to roll over not even how to shake hands but never mind he is so teeny weeny that everybody loves him,” the clown, the fat lady, the thin man, the huge tall giant, the strong baby, the acrobats, the elephants, and all the other amazing performers in the wonderful circus of the man with the quite tall red hat. But then something unexpected happens that threatens to bring Peewee’s time under the Big Top to an end.
Now Open the Box is a beautiful example of the art of Dorothy Kunhardt, the author of the timeless classic Pat the Bunny and the pioneering picture book Junket Is Nice. Here Kunhardt speaks with wonderfully reassuring directness to children’s hopes and fears while making magic out of the simplest things.
Ricki’s Review: This picture book made me chuckle. I absolutely adored little Peewee and his circus adventures. I will admit, as an English teacher, the whimsical run-ons make me want to get out a pen, but I have to admit that they do add fantastic, curious element to the story—which remind me of Dr. Seuss’s fun stories. They certainly add to the book’s whimsy. Dorothy Kunhardt doesn’t just tell us about Peewee. She adds great imagery of the various, magical creatures in the circus. These aren’t your average circus animals, either. I loved the vivid illustrations and can’t wait to read this to my baby (who is due in 7 weeks!). I know this will be a favorite.
Kellee’s Review: I will have to second all that Ricki said. Dorothy Kephardt has a way of telling her stories that reminds me of the We’re Going on a Bear Hunt song/story. They are catchy, fun, and will get the kids chorally reading “S/He loved little peewee.” Then underneath all of the fun and whimsy is the essential question of the story: Will I be loved/wanted even after I am not young and little and cute anymore? I think that this question will leave a large impact on the primary students who will get the gift of this story.
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Kids will have a lot of fun with this picture book. Teachers can read it aloud and then ask students to envision their own circus animals and draw pictures. There is a lot of great imagery. It would be beneficial for teachers to read a line from the book aloud and then ask students to visualize the animal before they see the picture. There are a lot of great stopping points where teachers could also ask students to make predictions about the box and Peewee’s plight. Finally, as Dorothy Kephardt writes her books in a formulaic fashion, students could use Now Open the Box as a mentor text to make their own story with a surprise ending. This would make for a great teaching tool, and we recommend it for the classroom.
Discussion Questions: What did you think would be in the box? How might your prediction have changed the story?; What makes Peewee unique? What makes us unique? How might being different be exciting and beneficial to us?; What happens after the story ends? Imagine the future for Peewee and add to the tale!
We Flagged: We loved all of the circus animals in this story, so we wanted to share one of the animals who loved Peewee:
“There was a giraffe who can swallow a big rubber ball without sneezing. He loved little Peewee” (p.31).
To see a sneak peak of the book and get an idea for the illustrations, visit the Now Open the Box Amazon page and “Look Inside”
Read This If You Loved: Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, Junket is Nice by Dorothy Kephardt, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems, other picture book classics like Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
**Thank you to Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for us to review**