Not a Stick

Portis, Antoinette


HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York. 2008. 32 p.


This is the long-awaited (at least in my world) sequel to Not a Box, and it is just as endearing and clever as the first one. Portis has found an incredibly fun niche and I hope she is able to find more ideas for this concept of animals, really representing human children here, finding their imaginations through inanimate and everyday objects.


In this book, a little pig comes across a stick which becomes a vehicle for all sorts of imaginary items. The pig imagines it as a fishing rod, a marching band baton, a paint brush, and a sword, to name a few. This book is in the same format as Box, with a parental voice on one side of the page warning the pig to “be careful” with the stick and wondering why on earth someone would play with a stick, and the animal on the opposite page and following pages showing us what sorts of wonderful things a plain object can become.


These books show children, and adults, that our imaginations are so endless and amazing that we’re really selling our minds short when we don’t use them and let our ideas flow. My childhood was filled with sticks and leaves that became galloping deer and little birds or ducks to me. It’s not that I didn’t have every toy I wanted; it’s that I found joy out of using my imagination and was never told I was being silly or odd. Children who use their imaginations early become some of our most beloved artists later and find great inner happiness, and that’s something that we can’t put a price on.


Not a Stick is not just a book. It’s a key to unlocking inner potential.