Cover image for The boxes
The boxes
Sleator, William.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
196 pages ; 22 cm
When she opens two strange boxes left in her care by her mysterious uncle, fifteen-year-old Annie discovers a swarm of telepathic creatures and unleashes a power capable of slowing down time.
Reading Level:
660 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 6.0 27974.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.8 5 Quiz: 13216 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Open this book -- if you dare!Uncle Marco's frequent, mysterious trips have fascinated Annie for years -- he never tells anyone, even his beloved niece, where he is going or when he'll be back. But this time is special: He leaves Annie in charge of two sealed boxes, with strict instructions not to open either one while he's away. As time passes, curiosity gnaws at her until she can think of virtually nothing else, even though problems dog her at both home and school. She worries especially about the evil Crutchley Development, a company that's trying to buy her family's house out from under them! Would it hurt to just peek inside one of the tempting, exotic boxes?But as soon as Annie does just that, an incredibly grotesque, crablike creature scuttles out and disappears into the basement shadows. Annie is filled with an overpowering sense of dread. And when the creature almost immediately begins to multiply, she verges on panic and wonders whether opening the other box will help or hurt. There's just one difference between Annie and Pandora, though -- for Annie, there's no hope left.This intricately plotted sci-fi thriller takes on the human psyche as well as the very nature of time itself, bringing fans on a suspenseful journey they'll never forget.

Author Notes

William Sleator was born on February 13, 1945 in Harve de Grace, Maryland. In 1967, he received a BA in English from Harvard University. He mainly wrote science fiction novels for young adults. His first novel, Blackbriar, was published in 1972. He wrote more than 30 books including House of Stairs, Interstellar Pig, The Green Futures of Tycho, Strange Attractors, The Spirit House, The Boy Who Couldn't Die, and The Phantom Limb. His picture book, The Angry Moon, won a Caldecott Award in 1971. He died on August 3, 2011 at the age of 66.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. "And don't try to open them," Annie's mysterious Uncle Marco warns before he departs for destinations unknown. "Them" are the two singularly odd boxes that he has left in Annie's safekeeping, because "you're the only one I can trust." Rest assured, readers can trust Annie, too: to be overcome by curiosity and, like a latter-day Pandora, to open both! In the first, she finds something "small and dark and crablike" that demonstrates the capacity for reproducing itself in astonishing numbers. In the second, she finds something less fecund but certainly more sinister. To add to her dismay, Annie is quickly drawn into an oddly symbiotic relationship with her discoveries. The story gets an A for suspense but disappoints with the comic-book characterization of the various human villains. Unfortunately, too, the story can't quite support the weight of a wonderfully imaginative and thought-provoking central concept that involves the nature of time and--well--religion. The oddly abrupt ending, however, suggests a sequel, which could offer a welcome opportunity for more expansive thematic development. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

The ill-starred pioneer family of Mary Jane Auch's Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer returns in The Road to Home. This installment, set in 1817, finds 13-year-old Remembrance Nye leading her younger siblings back from upstate New York to their grandmother's house in Connecticut. (Holt, $16.95 ages 9-12 ISBN 0-8050-4921-5; July) A companion to Steal Away Home, Lois Ruby's Soon Be Free alternates between a present-day mystery set in a bed-and-breakfast and a historical adventure about a 13-year-old boy who aids four runaway slaves in 1857. (S&S, $17 ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-83266-4; Aug.) THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC Jimmy Kennedy, illus. by Alexandra Day. S&S/Aladdin, $5.99 ISBN 0-689-83530-2. ~ The illustrator of Good Dog, Carl creates a cozy woodland gathering of cuddly bears, inspired by a favorite song. Ages 3-6. (June) BLAZE FINDS THE TRAIL C.W. Anderson. S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 ISBN 0-689-83520-5. ~ Originally published in 1950, this story of Billy and his adventures exploring the forest with his pony is available in paperback for the first time, complete with colorized cover art. Three more Blaze books previously available only in hardcover will follow. Ages 5-8. (July) ~ SECRET LETTERS FROM 0 TO 10 Susie Morgenstern, trans. by Gill Rosner. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130819-2. ~ "Set in France and wrought with energy and wit, this chronicle of a deprived young man whose life is turned topsy-turvy with a new neighbor's arrival is not to be missed," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE BOXES William Sleator. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130810-9. ~ This tale of a girl who, like Pandora, is given not one but two boxes she is forbidden to open, is filled with the author's "signature high-style ick and suspense," said PW. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) THE MARVELOUS MISADVENTURES OF SEBASTIAN Lloyd Alexander. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130816-8. ~ Spiced with the author's unique brand of wit, this winner of the 1971 National Book Award follows a young adventurer with good intentions through disaster after disaster. Ages 10-14. (July) REACHING DUSTIN Vicki Grove. Puffin, $5.99 ISBN 0-698-11839-1. ~ PW called this "a heartfelt story that unmasks the vulnerabilities of two preadolescents from very different walks of life." Ages 10-up. (Aug.) SOMEONE LIKE YOU Sarah Dessen. Puffin, $4.99 ISBN 0-14-130269-0. ~ PW said this "realistic portrayal of contemporary teens and their moral challenges breathes fresh life into well-worn themes of rebellion and first love." Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8ÄOrphan Anne Levi tolerates her distant Aunt Ruth, with whom she lives, but adores her mysterious Uncle Marco, who flits in and out of their lives at irregular intervals. When he gives Anne two unusual boxes with strict instructions not to open them, curiosity gets the better of her. Opening the first one, she releases an unusual crablike creature that grows and reproduces rapidly; the life form and its offspring construct a fantastic palace in the basement and communicate with Anne telepathically. Dismayed by what she has done, Anne opens the second box, which she had hidden in her closet, revealing a clocklike object that has the ability to slow down time at the basement creatures' request, but only when Anne agrees to carry messages between the creatures and the clock. Unfortunately, the owners of a suspicious development company are intrigued by the time slowdowns and increase their ominous efforts to control Anne, her home, and the strange devices within it. Through her adventures, Anne grows into a self-confident teenager who is able to stand up to her overbearing aunt and trust her own instincts. Reminiscent of the complexity of Sleator's early science fiction, The Boxes introduces intriguing characters and unique situations but it leaves many loose ends and unanswered questions. Readers never find out just who or what Uncle Marco is, where he and Anne go when they enter the palace at the end, or where the boxes came from in the first place. The Boxes may be popular with Sleator's fans, but be prepared for requests for a sequel.ÄSusan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.