The Boy and the Box, written by Leila Boukarim and Shameer Bismilla, and illustrated by Barbara Moxham, is a masterpiece of storytelling!
The Boy and the Box, tells the tale of a boy on a journey who comes across an empty box. Imagining all the great things he can do with it, he finds his path splits between the way his heart is leading him and the advice of others.
This story is a powerful allegory about the decisions in life all boys must face: whether to be true to themselves and reach for the stars, or be steered away to a safer less-fulfilling path. A path which ultimately, will only lead him away from his goals.
This story is written with sparse, lyrical text which serves the contemplative nature of the story very well. There are beautiful poetic moments throughout but it is not heavy handed and leaves lots of room for the reader to meditate on the choices the boy has to make and the decisions he ultimately does make. This book left a strong impression on my boys, even though they are on the upper end of the picture book age bracket. It has led to many a reflective and important discussion and I am very grateful for that. There are not enough stories out there about boys embracing their emotions and exploring their powerful imaginations, and this is a particularly good one. Without shouting at the reader to confront social norms, it addresses gender stereotyping face on through the voices of others and quietly acknowledges the importance of being true to oneself even if that means going against people’s expectations. My little girl also enjoyed this book and found it thought-provoking. She kept asking the boy to let his feelings out of the box, which I found wonderfully profound for a 5 year old and proof of the books positive impact.
Barbara Moxham’s illustrations are stunning. Dream-like, full of light and shadow. They are both textured and gentle. They worked perfectly with the text and makes the book the perfect gift. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.