Not a Box by Antoinette Portis


Portis, Antoinette. Not a Box.  Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2006.  $14.99, 32 pages.

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Reader’s Annotation: For a bunny with an imagination, a box is so much more than a box.


A bunny sitting in a box is plagued with questions from a pesky narrator.  First the narrator wants to know why it is sitting in a box.  Then the narrator wants to know why it is standing on the top of the box.  The narrator doesn’t understand why the bunny is squirting the box with a hose.  Or why he wears the box.  Finally, the bunny explains that it is not a box, but a Not-a-Box.


Not a Box is a very simple picture book that beginner readers can enjoy.  The stark text against a single colored background and illustrated with simple drawings makes readers use their own imaginations.  The box has the potential to be many other things, a tall building, hot air balloon, race car, and much, much more.  Although simple in text and illustration, the message about the power of imagination is clear.  The anonymous narrator asking questions is disdainfully reproached by the imaginative bunny with a look of disbelief when he/she keeps asking about a box.  This delightful read has a powerful message wrapped in simple trappings.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity: 4
  • Quality: 3

Genre and Subgenre: fiction

Appeal Factors: illustrations, use of imagination

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • Brave Spaceboy by Dana Kessimakis Smith
  • Big Brown Box by Marisabina Russo

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award honor

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Series of box as not a box picture

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • Why does the narrator keep asking the bunny about the box?
  • What other things can you imagine the box could be?

Why I Chose This:

I chose this title because of its simplicity.  From the drawings to the text, everything was very simple.  I liked how Portis was still able to tell an entertaining story with so little.



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