Read It. Move It. Share It.
This is the fourth post in my collaboration with independent dance educator Maria Hanley from Maria's Movers. Each month I recommend a picture book for Maria to incorporate into her creative movement classes, and then we both share our experiences with the book. You can read Maria's April post here.
Have you ever noticed how young children can occupy themselves for hours on end with the simplest of objects? Wrapping paper, bubble wrap, and stickers are a few that come to mind. But cardboard boxes seem to have the same magical quality--one that inspires creativity and imagination--and one that is captured so simply and effortlessly in the picture book Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis.
Not a Box actually physically resembles a box on the outside. The texture and color of its cover evoke images of a box, and the back cover even has the words "This Side Up" printed alongside a couple of arrows, just as you might see on a box being delivered in the mail. The inside of the book, however, demonstrates that what might look like a simple box, to the outside eye, could actually be a variety of other objects, if only you use your imagination.
The main character is a bunny who transforms a cardboard box into a race car, a burning house, a robot, and a myriad of other things that only a young child (or creator Antoinette Portis) would be able to dream up. The interesting part is that there is an unseen character who can only see a plain box, and so keeps asking the bunny what he is doing with "a box." The bunny's reply, appropriately in all cases, is "It's not a box!"
In an interview with publisher HarperCollins, Antoinette Portis reminisces about her own imaginative play as a child. "I would get a flutter of excitement in my stomach setting out to play Pueblo Indian or Pirate or Prima Ballerina--I was about to have an adventure! My imagination never let me down--it always took me to a place that I loved to be," she says.
One of the reasons I recommended this book to Maria is because I know that Maria likes to incorporate props into her dance classes, and I thought a cardboard box could make an interesting one. I almost recommended the book Not a Stick as well, but I was afraid of what might happen if any young dancers got a little "too creative" with a pointed object during class, if you know what I mean. I know Maria has used rhythm sticks in her tap classes, though, so I will leave that one up to her!
Find out here if Maria used cardboard boxes in her classes this week. And, if you're itching for more ideas on props for creative movement, check out this post on Dance Advantage or this guest post by Stacey Pepper Schwartz over at 4dancers. Today is also Book Talk Tuesday at Lemme Library. You can read about more educational and fun books for kids there. Happy reading!