Roxaboxen: My Childhood Outdoors

Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Roxaboxen is a city of Alice McLerran's mother's childhood. According to the note at the end of the book, she brought it to life with the help of her Aunt Frances, "her mother's childhood manuscript, the memory of relatives, and letters and maps of former residents". Like the Velveteen Rabbit, love made it real and eternal. 

After a while they added other streets. 
Frances moved to one of them and built herself a new house outlined
   in desert glass, 
bits of amber, amethyst, and sea-green:
a house of jewels.

I loved reading Roxaboxen as a child, and my mom gave me my own copy when I was sixteen. I didn't live in the southwest like the children of Roxaboxen, but I loved to create a sense of order like the mayor, Marian, and I loved to gallop on a stick horse like Anna May. 

My backyard had leprechauns living in the clover by the creek, fairies danced in the sunlight, and the best place to warm up from a fall chill was in a fort of leaves, naturally.

Now I'm off to find all of the flowers with my daughter.

When you take a break from playing outside, read Roxaboxen, and tell me which parts speak to the child in you.


  1. This was my favorite book growing up! My sisters and I created our houses out of flowers under a yellow forsythia bush in our backyard.

  2. I just discovered that book last year, along with Barbara Cooney's books in general. Lovely stuff.

  3. I have never read that book... but your talk of childhood memories makes me think of my childhood favorite, The Maggie B. I wanted to be Margaret. I memorized the sea chanty that she sang, and most of the book for that matter. One Christmas my mom surprised me and made one of the recipes she cooked on the ship; baked peaches with honey. Mmm.


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