Toni Morrison's novels have always combined a deep psychological insight with a vigorous critique of society. It is not surprising then that this approach is replicated in her lesser-known work, The Big Box. This book, aimed at children eight-years-old and up, is a thoughtful exposé of what happens when adults attempt to determine children's limits. Told from the points of view of three 'feisty kids' who just can't handle their freedom, the book addresses issues like the generational gap, the meaning of innocence and the stifling of children's individuality nowadays.Through Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue's eyes, we learn of the world that has been created for them by adults. It's a big brown box with swings and slides, and a canopy bed but the door only opens one way. It has carpets, curtains and beanbag chairs but the door has three big locks. The children's parents visit them frequently and bring them presents, but how can that compare with actual freedom?
The book's two other major collaborators are Slade Morrison, Toni Morrison's son, who was only nine when he devised this story and Giselle Porter, whose illustrations transport the reader vividly to the enclosed world that awaits Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue inside the Big Box. This text is a must-read not just for children but also for adults who sometimes think they know better and end up limiting children's individuality.
This review appeared first on Catch a Vibe, a new online alternative guide to black culture in London.