What's in the Box? by David Minty
Two friends find a mysterious box and imagine what might be inside. A crab? Is it full of treasures? The entrance to a tunnel of turkeys? As they open it to find out what lurks inside, they're suddenly confronted with a danger that leaves one of them covered in red spots.
What's In The Box, the second book from author and illustrator David Minty, follows the two yellow friends from his first book, My New Red Car.
The book was inspired by Minty's childhood in the 1980s. There were no devices and children had to find their own fun. He says his mother would put a large cardboard box on the lawn and say 'go play with it'. It would force him and his friends to use their imaginations.
The book follows this idea through - with Minty's five-year-old son providing most of the ideas of what could be inside the box.
Minty's illustrations once again play an important part in telling the story.
He uses bright, bold colours paired with simple shapes to produce uncluttered, to the point illustrations. While little ones might not be able to read the words, they can recall and retell the story using the pictures to guide them.
Another echo from his first book, Minty once again adds some little clues for observant readers as to what might be inside the box. This adds to the fun.
However, this book didn't have the same quirky, subtle humour that his first book had in spades. In fact, the ending was a bit of a downer for my little readers.
Admittedly it was because we have a family member with a deadly allergy to what is finally revealed to be inside the box, so our reading of the book draws on that experience. That is not all bad though - perhaps it was unintentional on Minty's behalf but the book did spark a conversation about kindness and protecting other people, about manaaki and about what to do in that situation.
It is still a unique read though, and one that will inspire imagination and creativity.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Minty Books, RRP $19.95