Reviews for Boxes for Katje


Booklist Reviews 2003 September #1
K-Gr. 3. In May 1945, a Dutch girl named Katje is thrilled to receive a letter and a package of socks, soap, and chocolate from Rosie, a girl she doesn't know who lives in Mayfield, Indiana. The kids start to exchange letters, and when Rosie's family members learn of Holland's severe post-war deprivations, they enlist Mayfield residents to send food and clothes to Katje, who generously shares the gifts with others in her community. The sense of suffering isn't strong here, in part because the Dutch townspeople are almost always depicted as smiling about the packages. But the story is still moving, and Dressen-McQueen's lively illustrations, in colored pencil, oil pastel, and acrylic, pack lots of color, pattern, and historical details onto every expansive page. Fleming based the book on her mother's experience, which she describes in an author's note; in the real-life story, however, adults, not children, orchestrated the events, a finding that may be a little disappointing to kids who took the book, with its specific dates, town names, and heroic, generous children, as straight fact. ((Reviewed September 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
Katje, who lives in post-WWII Holland, receives a care package from an American girl. Katje writes a thank-you note to Rosie, who begins recruiting friends and neighbors to help send bigger and bigger packages to Katje, who shares the bounty with [cf2]her[cf1] friends and neighbors. The pictures matter-of-factly present Katje's poverty and Rosie's relative prosperity, while, like the carefully crafted text, emphasizing their similarities. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #5
Amidst the deprivations of life in post-WWII Holland, young Katje receives a care package from an American girl. Katje writes a thank-you note to Rosie, who, when she hears about Katje's generosity with the handful of gifts, begins recruiting friends and neighbors to help send bigger and bigger packages to Katje, who shares the bounty with her friends and neighbors. Fleming has carefully shaped her story so that Katje's heartfelt letters unintentionally inspire further gifts from Rosie (a clothing drive at Rosie's church results from Katje's innocent mention of how the box of food made everyone so happy they forgot about the holes in their shoes). The opening endpapers show Rosie's Indiana neighborhood in 1945; closing endpapers feature the same scene two years later, each yard overflowing with color--from the tulip bulbs Katje's community sends to express their gratitude. First-time illustrator Dressen-McQueen keeps the sentimentality of the story at bay with artwork that matter-of-factly presents Katje's poverty and Rosie's relative prosperity while, like the text, emphasizing their similarities: the secure warmth each experiences at home and their desire to help others. Reflecting the story's theme about friendship's ability to bridge long distances, the multimedia illustrations often overlay a scene from Katje's hometown with one of the girls' handwritten letters and a snapshot-like picture of Rosie's home. An author's note provides further information on the actual events that inspired Fleming's story. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 September #1
Katje and her family struggle to make due with substitutions for essentials like soap and sugar in Holland, post-WWII. One day, Postman Kleinhoonte unexpectedly delivers a small box from America addressed to Katje; it contains a bar of soap, a pair of wool socks, and some chocolate. A letter from Rosie is also in the box expressing her wish that "these gifts brighten your day." A pen-pal exchange begins with Katje's thank-you letter and gradually develops into an American small-town effort to donate basics to their European counterpart over the course of a year. Katje's neighbors reciprocate with a box of tulip bulbs after conditions improve in the war-torn country. Fleming reveals Katje's character of leadership, resolve, and gratitude through her written communiqués and Rosie's initiative and inspiration through her active promotion of the charitable effort. Dressen-McQueen captures the flavor and essence of Fleming's 1945 family experience through her detailed mixed-media paintings delineating fabric patterns, hairdos, emotions, and the general lifestyle of both communities. As heartwarming and uplifting as a bouquet of tulips. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 August #3
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 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2003 September
Gr 1-4-"After the war, there was little left in the tiny Dutch town of Olst. The townspeople lived on cabbages and seed potatoes. They patched and repatched their worn-thin clothing, and they went without soap or milk, sugar or new shoes." Set in post-World War II Holland and based on an actual incident, this story illuminates a little-known episode in history. To offset the devastation left by the war, the Children's Aid Society and other relief agencies encouraged American students to send boxes of basic necessities to victimized children. When Katje in Olst receives such a box from Rosie in Mayfield, IN, the two begin a correspondence that eventually triggers a relief effort that enables this small Dutch town to make it through an unbearably frigid winter. Fleming does an estimable job of bringing time and place into focus, and presents endearing, fleshed-out characters with whom readers can easily empathize and sympathize. Dressen-McQueen's warm-toned colored-pencil, oil-pastel, and acrylic illustrations accurately reflect dress, architecture, and other details, and the facial expressions and body postures of the characters effectively convey their joy in these much-appreciated gifts. A good choice for storyhour as well as for independent reading and an excellent discussion starter.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 October
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 Reed Business Information.

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