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Toni and Slade Morrison
The Big Box

THE BIG BOX has a powerful message for adults and children alike…

To allow children to express themselves.
To observe children and learn from them.
To nourish their free spirits.
Learning and respecting boundries

Recommend reading and discussing with children ages 8 and up.



The Book of Mean People

Recommend reading and discussing with children ages 4 and up.

Highly recommend for ages 6 Up (writing skills required)

Exactly what is mean in the eyes of a child? You decide.

My grandmother tells me to sit down.
My grandfather tells me to sit up,
How can I sit down and sit up at the same time?

How about this?

A mother screams... Do you hear me?
(I can't hear her when she is screaming.)

The baby-sitter says... Hurry up. You are wasting time!
(How can I waste time if I use it?)

A book filled with powerful messages...

Some mean people are big. Some little people are mean.
Big people are little when they are mean
Screaming people disappear when they yell.

by Toni and Slade Morrison

Oh, the seagulls scream
And rabbits hop
And beavers chew trees when they need 'em.
But Patty and Mickey and Liza Sue—
Those kids can't handle their freedom.

Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue are contemporary, every-day kids who do every-day things and behave like most every-day kids. They feel like they are in prison (the box) because their imagination and spontaneity threaten the conformity of their parents and teachers. Patty won’t play with dolls, Mickey hollered in the hall and played handball (right where the sign said not to), and Liza had too much fun in the field and let the chickens keep their eggs! These behaviors made the adults nervous.

“Oh Liza,” they said, “you’re a wonderful child
And we really don’t want to remove you.
But you have to know how far to go
If you want grown-ups to approve you.
Now, the rules are clear in everybody’s mind
So there’s no need to repeat them
We all agree, your parents and we,
That you simply can’t handle your freedom.”

For their own good and safety, they are locked away in a big, brown box.

Oh, it’s pretty inside and the windows are wide
With shutters to keep out the day.
They have swings and slides and custom-made beds
And the doors open only one way.

Each child feels the shame of nonconformity, however, they each speak of the good things they do and the many ways that they do conform to the adult world.

I don't mean to be rude: I want to be nice.
But I'd like to hang on to my freedom.

I know you are smart and I know that you think
You are doing what is best for me.
But if freedom is handled just your way
Then it's not my freedom or free.