The Dress-Up Box by Patrick Guest & Nathaniel Eckstrom

Inside the CBCA Shortlist

The Dress-Up Box (Hardie Grant Egmont) is a story about home, family, friends and using your imagination.

The Frolleys rent the house next door to their best friends, the Choong family. They have a frog pond, bird bath, bamboo forest, haunted shed and a dress-up box. When the Frolleys have to move they have a picnic to farewell all the animals and the Choong family. Their new house has a tiny backyard and no front garden. Their neighbours include a creepy cat and an old opera singer. The new house does have problems but it also has “A space ship. A spooky tunnel. A pig pen. And a periscope”; as well as the family teddies, old toys and the dress-up box. These all help to make it home.

The book is illustrated in pencil, acrylics and digital media in a slightly retro style, particularly used for the characters, with plenty of white space.

Patrick Guest’s website is

Nathaniel Eckstrom’s website is

Story Map Create a group story map on the interactive white board or equivalent to show the Frolleys’ first house and yard. On the map use pictures, labels and arrows to show where the characters crashed through the bamboo forest, crept through the haunted shed, “fed the horses, raced frogs and spied on birds”. Children could also mime these actions.

Dress-Up Of course, there must be a dress-up box in the library, classroom or home to feature this book. Children dress up using props and costumes. They could make some of these (particularly hats or the crown) from cardboard, as shown in the endpapers and the picture of the made costumes and toys in their new house, e.g. the periscope.

They could cut up a cereal box to make a helmet, samurai or egg hat/mask like the family wear. Or make cardboard crowns:

Read The Ricker Racker Club by Guest and Eckstrom and other books by Patrick Guest, including The Second Sky and by Nathaniel Eckstrom, including The Hole Idea by Beth and Paul MacDonald and Duck by Meg McKinlay.

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