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: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Come with us there, where all you need to gallop fast and free is a long stick and a soaring imagination.
In glowing desert hues, artist Barbara Cooney has caught the magic of Alice McLerran's treasured land of Roxaboxen a place that really was, and, once you've been there, always is.
Roxaboxen celebrates the imagination of children who, no matter the time or place, can create whole worlds out of what they find around them--here, rocks and boxes, cacti and sand. Marian and her friends find a ``special place'' in the desert where in time-honored fashion, they play the games that will prepare them for their grown-up lives. They make houses, drive pretend cars, bake bread, ride stick ponies, fight their wars and bury their dead. Drawn from her mother's reminiscences, McLerran's gentle text is both particular and universal, as she fondly tells this evocative story--``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.'' With its gently rolling terrain, blossoming ocotillos and cacti, and vast skies of ever-changing hues, Cooney's ( Hattie and the Wild Waves ; Island Boy ) desert is a wondrous and beauteous place. The doll-like children in their knickers and sailor dresses emphasize the timelessness of this place where ``seasons changed, and the years went by but Roxaboxen was always there.'' Ages 5-8. (Apr.)