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Boxes for Katje

by Candace Fleming
Illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen

Published by Melanie Kroupa Books / Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003
36 pages
ISBN: 0-374-30922-1

Ages 6 - 9

Although World War II had ended, the winter of 1945 saw scores of Europeans desperately lacking the basic necessities of adequate food and clothing. Many American families and organizations responded to their need with care packages shipped across the Atlantic. This fictionalized account of an actual event embroiders on the story of a box sent by the author's mother to a Dutch family. One early spring day, Katje is thrilled with the unexpected arrival of a box from America containing a bar of soap, a pair of wool socks, and - the ultimate luxury - a bar of chocolate. Katje savors a piece of the chocolate, and generously shares the rest with her mother and the postman who delivered the package. She finds a letter enclosed, from Rosie Johnson of Mayfield, Indiana, who writes: "Dear Dutch Friend, I hope these gifts brighten your day." In her reply, Katje thanks Rosie for the gifts, especially the chocolate, and tells of how her mother and Postman Kleinhoonte enjoyed it too. A few months later, Postman Kleinhoonte delivers a larger box from Rosie and her mother, filled with four precious bags of sugar. Again, Katje shares her treasure, this time with next door neighbor Mrs. deLand and her five thin children. Once more, Katje writes her thanks, and the appreciation of the deLand family. As autumn brings worries about encroaching winter weather, Postman Kleinhoonte staggers to Rosie's door with a box on his back so large it wouldn't fit on his bicycle. His shouts attract attention, and neighbors gather to receive a share of the food shipped by Rosie, her mother, and her mother's friends. During the hard winter, many boxes arrive from Rosie and her community, packed with food and clothing distributed by Katje to the townspeople in need. Finally, the snow melts, and on a warm spring day Katje and her friends fill a box to send to America. When Rosie opens her package from Holland, the note reads: "We hope these tulip bulbs [...] will brighten Mayfield's days." This hopeful story of community effort and international friendship with a focus firmly grounded in a child's perspective is complemented by appealing illustrations showing the events from Katje and Rosie's alternating vantage points. CCBC Categories: Picture Books for School-Aged Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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