The Red Tin Box by Matthew Burgess

The Red Tin Box by Matthew Burgess
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Like modern-day Miss Rumphius and her promise to make the world a more beautiful place, this luminous story brings the scope of a lifetime into focus for a young reader and fills it with the magic of gifts given and received.

This moving and radiant story of the relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter, and the joy and promise passed down between them, begins one quiet dawn . . .
On the morning of her eighth birthday,
Maude buries a secret
at the foot of a flowering dogwood—
and inside it,
a tiny toy elephant,
a marble like a tiger’s eye,
a bird’s nest with purple string woven through the twigs,
and more.

A special box.
A gift, waiting for the right moment to be opened again.

At once lyrical and profound, this enchantingly illustrated book is a joyful celebration of intergenerational relationships and of the secret treasures of childhood. Young readers and adults will delight in the memories and magic tucked away in the red tin box.

REASSURING AND MAGICAL: In these unpredictable times, gentle stories have the power to reassure little ones that the most important things in life are still right in our hands. This beautiful book celebrates the enduring themes of family love, connection, and the power of memory with poignancy and care.

CELEBRATES INTERGENERATIONAL SHARING: The warmth between a grandmother and her granddaughter that this luminous picture book depicts serves as a beautiful model of the little moments that form fond memories and build lasting intergenerational relationships.

EVERYONE HAS A TREASURE: The collection of special objects in this story give a grandmother’s memories and connection to her granddaughter a physicality that even the youngest readers can use their own senses to understand, reinforcing the deeper meaning and mystery each one contains.

A MEANINGFUL GIFT: With gorgeous, color-drenched illustrations and lyrical text that illuminates a message of enduring love, this picture book makes a wonderful gift for any occasion, from birthdays to holidays, and every day of the year.

Perfect for:
Anyone seeking storytime books that celebrate family connection
Fans of beautiful and heartfelt picture books like The Giving Tree, One Morning in Maine, and Last Stop on Market Street
Gift book for new grandmothers, as part of a wishing well basket for baby shower, a birthday gift to a grandchild, or a classroom resource for diverse kids’ books
Any occasion that calls for distinctive books that will become treasured keepsakes

Childhood doesn’t last forever, but what if you could preserve a piece of it?

The relationship between Maude and her granddaughter was sweet and beautiful. I loved getting a taste of the sorts of quiet adventures they went on together, especially once the storyline explained what they hoped to accomplish on this trip. It’s always nice to have more stories about loving and involved grandparents, especially when they remember what it’s like to be a kid as clearly and fondly as this one did.

I was disappointed by how little time was spent explaining the contents of the red tin box. After all of the scenes that hyped up what Maude might have buried so many years before and why they were so meaningful to her, it felt odd to skim over these details so quickly in the last few scenes. If more attention had been paid to this, I would have happily gone for a much higher rating.

It was interesting to see how much the landscape stayed the same between when Maude buried her box and when she went back again to dig it up. There are a few places I know that are like that, and visiting them can feel like stepping back in the past in a soothing and wholesome way. This isn’t a feeling or a setting that’s easy to capture in a picture book, so I tip my cap to the author for pulling it off.

The Red Tin Box was a peaceful tale.

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