Book Review: The Little Girl in a Box

9:20:00 AM

The Little Girl in a Box by Felinda V. Bagas

When I went to the Adarna House Booth during the Manila International Book Fair 2015, I searched for all of their award-winning Filipino children's books. I bough all of  them because I'm sure that I will enjoy reading all of them. The first story that I read was "The Girl in a Little Box" by Felinda Bagas and illustrations by Aldy Aguirre. This book won a PBBY-Salanga Prize Honorable Mention in 2012 and 2014 Best Reads for CHildren in National Children's Book Awards. 

The cover of the book is quite simple but I think is elegant. The front cover has a brown box with few paper flowers scattered around it and a red background. What I liked most was the back cover. The barcode at the bottom lefthand corner of the page is amazing. The illustrator is very creative in transforming the barcode into a box with the girl sitting above it.

The story started with a little girl inside a box. She wants to stay there all the time. Actually she loved being inside the small box. But in the picture you can see that she is curious and looking at the world outside her box. I think a part of her wants to go out and discover what are the things happenign outside her box. But on the one hand, there is a part of her that inhibits her from going out. She might be afraid because she felt comfortable inside her box. And the world outside is full of uncertainties.

She wants to say inside the box and when she cried when several nuns tried to get her out of the box. I realized that the little girl in the story might be an orphan living in an orphanage managed by nuns. Especially because there was a page with several beds and the nuns looking after the kids in the bed.

The little girl had a lot of adventures inside the little box. She went to different places using the box. It transformed into different forms of transportation. She went to different places but she never felt home and she never felt fit to live in those places. She went to an elegant house where she has everything. She has a fancy house, abundance of food, clothes and toys but she felt so restricted because the owner of the house does not allow her to do a lot of things. And so she decided to leave the place because she cannot do a lot of things inside the house. She also went to a place near the sea where she has a lot of playmates. She enjoyed a lot being with the people there. But there are lots of children in that place. It was very noisy, there were scarcity of food and the mother cannot take care of all of the children. And so she decided to leave. Lastly she flew up high in the sky where the stars are. She enjoyed it there jumping from one star to the other, from one cloud to the other. But suddenly the clouds turned into cold water and she fell down. She felt the place is not for her and so she decided to return to her little box.

I like the different vehicles used by the little girl in the story. First the box transformed into a car. It symbolizes that the little girl wants to get out of her stationary box and search for a family. It symbolized her longing for love of a family. The boat and the sea symbolizes the hardships and challenges that she faced in search of a family. It is not an easy experience for the little girl. There are tides and waves along the way.

The final scene was when the girl woke up and the birds around her sing the songs that she heard during her long journey. The walls of her room were blue like the sea that she went through, the ceiling are like clouds. The little girl is now staying with a family which is total opposite of the people that she encountered during her long journey with the little box. She has a good parents, she has a lot of toys and she enjoyed everything about her new family. This became her real home. Amazing because the scene here was like looking inside a box. Imagine you at the ceiling and looking at the little girl from the above.

I actually had a hard time understanding the whole story during my first reading. I was wondering about the symbolic meaning of the little box. After reading the story, I realized that it might be a symbolism for her memory. Her memory regarding her experiences before she found a family that will take care of her. I don't know the reason why she is staying in an orphanage. I felt so sad during her search for a place to live in. I felt her loneliness and grief every time she leaves a place because she does not feel that she can stay in that place. But I am happy because she was able to find a family that really loves her. Another symbolism that I can think of is that the box serves as a container or wrapper of a special gift. Since the little girl is a gift to her new family. The author also said the the box is a special box. It is really special because it contains a gift from heaven - the little girl.

The lessons that I can think of from the story is that there are lots of challenges that we can meet, there are a lot of experiences that can break us, there are lots of things that can disappoint us and will not live up to our expectation. But there's always rainbow after the rain. It's not always pain and misery. There's a definite end to all the problems. We will always find a solution to all of our problems. There is indeed a happy ending just like what happened to the little girl in this story. I think another lesson that we can get from this story is that love goes beyond bloodline. Filipinos are very loving person. And so the little girl in the story found love and appreciation from her new parents (foster parents). She is very blessed because she belonged to a very loving family.

I highly suggest this book to children especially those who have no parents, orphans or even children who has siblings that are adopted. This book might help them realize the experiences of an orphan. That it is indeed difficult for the adopted child. There will be a lot of major changes that a child has to go through. Just like the little girl in the story, they can always remember the difficulties that they went through before being adopted. They may still feel the pain of being abandoned, the feeling that even your own parents does not want to have you. They may feel that they do not belong or that no one wants to be with them.We have to help them overcome the changes and we have to make them feel loved and appreciated. They have to feel that they really belong in the family. This is also an encouragement to the orphans that even thought they do not have their biological family, there are a lot of people that can love fully and unconditionally even though they are not related biologically.

Before I end, I hope this book can have a translation in Filipino language. I believe it can reach more Filipino children if it has a translation in Filipino just like the other books of Adarna House.

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