It is often observed that the most intriguing part of a purchase or a gift for a child is not the contents of the package but the box, itself. That is certainly how an imaginative “boxitect” like Meg sees it.
Meg scours the house for boxes, and, in her hands, they become towers, tunnels and castles. Mom is so impressed by Meg’s ingenuity that she send her daughter off to Maker School.
At Maker School there were blanketeers, spaghetti-tects, tin-foilers, and
egg-cartoneers. There was almost any kind of maker you could imagine.
But Meg was the class’s first boxitect, and that made her feel special.
Conflict is introduced when a second boxitect, Simone, arrives. The two girls have different building styles, and each has not-so-gently-delivered advice and criticism for the other. This all comes to a head at the Maker Match at the end of the term when students are required to work in pairs. Unable to agree on a single project, Meg and Simone argue.
“I want to make a treehouse!” Meg said.
“No, I want to make a ship!” Simone insisted.
Meg drew a line down the middle of a very large box.
“I’ll take this half. You can have the other.”
“Fine!” said Simone.
Each half of this ‘joint’ construction grows larger and more outlandish. When Meg and Simone have used up all the boxes in the studio, it only takes one sneeze from a passing bee to bring the tottering pile crashing down.
What to do? Salvage the usable pieces and collaborate. This tale of endeavour, conflict and, eventually, friendship has a setting that is original, even if the theme is one we have met before, and the title, in itself, grabs attention.
The crisp and brightly coloured illustrations have been provided by the author using Photoshop. They depict active scenes of wide-eyed children (and adults) in the midst of a maelstrom of making. And the creations are wonderful. The text uses a font that echoes hand-printing, a touch which adds to the immediacy of the story.
Boxitects will be of interest to teachers and parents promoting art activities, and it would be a pleasant addition to a library story time.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, British Columbia.