Simple seeds of friendship grow into something extraordinaryAfter World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom thick and bright, Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box - a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What's inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks - beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same. This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author's mother's childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference. Boxes for Katje is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year and a 2006 California Young Readers Medal for Picture Books for Older Readers winner
Inspired by actual events, Fleming's (Ben Franklin's Almanac, reviewed below) engaging story of post-WWII Holland serves as a potent-and merry-lesson in generosity. The residents of war-ravaged Olst "patched and repatched their worn-thin clothing, and they went without soap or milk, sugar or new shoes." Through the Children's Aid Society, an American child, Rosie, sends a box of provisions to Katje, a windfall the girl gladly shares with the postman and her mother. Her thank-you note inspires a larger package, which she aportions to her neighbors, and so on, until sleds of provisions from Rosie's town arrive for all the residents of Olst. Fleming deftly dramatizes the story with lively conversations among the townspeople and letters between the two girls. In an outstanding debut, Dressen-McQueen immerses readers in post-war Holland, crafting an entirely credible world of cobblestone streets, Dutch architecture and vintage clothing. Primitive in its flattened perspectives, these earth-toned illustrations (which progressively brighten as the situation does) resonate with joy and fellowship. The girls' letters and small, painted "snapshots" of Rosie's world drop into full-bleed panoramas of Katje's town. That is, until the story's end, when the residents of Olst return a gift to Rosie, whose jubilant receipt of the package fills the spread. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission
Gr 1-4 - In this story based on true events, Katje lives in a Dutch town devastated by World War II. When Rosie from Indiana sends a goodwill package through the Children's Aid Society, Katje and her neighbors regain hope. Gently effective illustrations evoke a sense of time and place and the girls' long-distance friendship.
Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.