“Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.)” That’s how this story by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, begins. We’re dropped on a hill with sand, rocks, boxes, cactus, greasewood, and “thorny ocotillo.” In some ways this story is ubiquitous — kids play outside with only rocks, boxes, and their imaginations. They create a small city filled with the types of buildings and people that fill cities everywhere. Even though their clothes identify the time period as about 100 years ago, we know these children. We all know a Marian: “Marian was mayor, of course; that was just the way she was. Nobody minded.” We all know a Jamie, who likes to be the police. We probably know a quiet Anna May who cannot drive without speeding. We may know — we may be — a Frances, who builds herself a house outlined with jewel-colored desert glass. But these children are not the first to play here: “Roxaboxen had always been there and must have belonged to others, long before.” Roxaboxen existed before these children, and it will exist after them. “Roxaboxen was always waiting,” we’re told. “Roxaboxen was always there.” On that same page, […]