Open in Case of Emergency
Zachary J. Warthog finds a mysterious box on his doorstep. Wooden, with a hinged lid, and a crank on the side, it has only these words, “OPEN IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.” It comes with no other instructions.
Next door, Cyrus receives the same box, again without any instructions. Each neighbor deals with the box and emergencies in a completely different fashion. Starting with his breakfast sugar, Zachary decides every need and want is an emergency. Zachary considered being out of sugar, breaking a shoelace, losing a sandwich, lacking clean underwear, needing batteries, forgetting a grocery item, and an inability to recall a name emergencies. He uses the box in each instance and the box gives him what he needs.
Cyrus never asks the box to help with any emergency, and he has several grand emergencies. Weather emergencies do damage to his house, eventually knocking it completely apart. Cyrus never askd the box for help. He wantd to keep the box handy for when he had a real, HUGE emergency.
As long as Cyrus can fix the damage, he refuses to call the damage an emergency. Cyrus iswas self-reliant, Zachary more dependent. While Cyrus is rebuilding his home, Zachary desperately looks for his emergency box, having lost it somehow and not knowing where. As Zachary ducks his head into the pool, just in case the box was submerged, Cyrus becomes curious. Zachary says, “It’s an emergency! I’ve lost my box.” Cyrus tells Zachary he has “one of those” and lends it to Zachary.
This is where the story falls apart. How does Cyrus know what kind of box Zachary has lost and why would he simply give up the emergency box he had been holding for a really huge emergency? Then, the two go inside Zachary’s house (Cyrus is rebuilding his house), for tea. Open in Case of Emergency must be leading up to a sequel. Zachary remarks on how useful the emergency box is and on the next page are the words “. . . yet.” Is this Zachary or Cyrus and why the cryptic text on the final page?
Open in Case of Emergency is a funny picture book, until the confusing ending. Children will not understand the ending, which ruins an otherwise acceptable picture book.