Roxaboxen, written by Alice McLerran and beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney, is one of my absolute favorite children’s books. It is a nostalgic story about the magic of childhood imagination that leaves me in tears every time “grey-haired Charles” returns to the place of his upbringing.
Reading Roxaboxen often leads me to reminisce about places around my childhood home where my imagination would run wild, and I wonder how so much facination happened in such small spaces.
Here’s my list of places I treasured:
- A skeleton key opened a museum for exploring hidden treasures up the crickety steps to the attic.
- A winding “castle” stairwell, carpeted in forest green and walls adorned with hunters on horseback, led from the front porch entryway to the my grandparents’ porch upstairs.
- The six-by-six hollow with the dirt floor under our side porch became a playhouse and even a snowshelter when the snow fell by the foot rather than by inches.
- Then there was the narrow passage between the two garages. If you scaled the cinder block walls just right with your back against one while pressing your feet against the other, you were a spy making your way to the roof for a bird’s-eye view of the lurking villains.
- My favorite was my classroom of dolls and teddy bears who, over the boiler’s hum, learned their ABC’s etched on the chalkboard in the storage room of our cellar.
There was no care about impracticality or silliness. As long as I was back in the house before the street lights went on, my parents didn’t hover. I was a child doing a child’s work and they were adults doing theirs. I’m sure they didn’t worry about this kind of play “rotting my brain”.
I invite you to share this post with family and friends encouraging them to follow and comment with treasured places around their homes where childhood imaginations soared. I bet many of our experiences may be similar… and even if you are an adult, I invite you to find a cozy spot to enjoy reading Roxaboxen. Just be sure to have a box of tissues nearby!