Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran

I know that this picture is big, but bear with me. It had to be large to show the detail. Just look at the book and use your imagination. Are those sticks or are they horses used to gallop around as they fight to slay the mighty dragon? Those are some of the questions that you might have asked yourself if you were a resident of Roxaboxen.

Roxaboxen was a magical land made up of sticks, stones, glass & discarded boxes that were magically transformed by its inhabitants who had something that money couldn’t buy- imagination. This book is a tribute to imagination.


This is an excellent- nay, outstanding book. I bought this one for Dakota. The outside is great. It’s not very colorful, but it doesn’t need to be; it makes its point. Just looking at the cover makes me think about the feeling that I got when I first read it to Dakota many years ago. When I was reading this book with Dakota, it took me back to my own childhood. I am a voracious reader, so I was constantly on the lookout for quality, feel good books. This is a book that I appreciate now and would have appreciated when I was little.

I have posted a couple of times about imagination, but I have to say that this is the ultimate. If you were to close your eyes and have someone read it to you, you could imagine perfectly what the author is describing. After reading this book, I wanted to take a trip there.


The author wrote this book as a tribute to her mother and her aunt who were occupants of Roxaboxen when they were little. The book is now printed in seven languages. There is even a park dedicated at the site in Yuma, AZ. How can you possibly pass up a story like this? Once I read it, I knew that I had to buy it. I’m telling you, if you only buy one book all summer, this should be it. It deals with one of my favorite topics- imagination. I cannot praise this book enough.

Synopsis: The people in the book didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, but they had their imagination. That was all they needed. In their world, they had houses, stores and their own money. They even had a jail for those who would break the law.The road in the middle of the “houses” became a river that had to be crossed.

Here are excerpts (p.1). Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill-nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and greasewood and thorny ocotillo–but it was a special place.

(p. 16) Everybody had a car. All you needed was something round for a steering wheel. Of course, if you broke the speed limit you had to go to jail. The jail had cactus on the floor to make it uncomfortable, and Jamie was the policeman.

There’s no age limit to this book as imagination has no age limit. I recommend it for all. Trust me, you will love it as much as your children.

Well, what are you waiting for, go out and get it!

**When I wrote this review I was not a teacher. I have since learned that this is the last story in the Imagination unit (2002). If you would like to find resources related to this, here is a link to Mathew Needleman’s Open Court resources. Click here.**

8 thoughts on “Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran

  1. Yes, this is such a great book. You know that I have such an overactive imagination. I would definitely suggest that you pick this book up.

  2. Thank you so much for this post! this was my favorite book as a child and it took me months and months of searching to find it online–I had forgotten the name. This is truly a gem of a book.

  3. […] Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, is one of my favorite books ever. It celebrates one of my favorite subjects of imagination. This is the true story of the author’s mother and aunt’s play world in Yuma, AZ during the Depression. Money and toys were scarce, so they used their imagination and created a little town they called Roxaboxen, complete with a sheriff and a jail. This is the cutest little story. Read it. Your class will love it. […]

  4. The K-4 kids at John Muir School in Ashland, Oregon just had Roxaboxen day today!!! About 50 kids, six hours, rocks, dirt, creek, pine trees, imagination… FUN!

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