cover image Jessica’s Box

Jessica’s Box

Peter Carnavas. EDC/Kane Miller, $11.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-61067-347-1

Originally published in Australia, this story of first-day jitters from Carnavas (The Children Who Loved Books) follows a girl’s efforts to make friends at school. Jessica uses a wheelchair, but that isn’t the problem (indeed, it never comes up in the story at all). Rather, Jessica doesn’t seem to know how to make friends. On the first day of class, she brings her stuffed bear to school in a cardboard box, prompting laughs and confused reactions. Next, Jessica fills the box with cupcakes; they are popular, but don’t do the trick (“Not even a thank you?” she thinks). Fed up, she puts the box over her head, leading to an impromptu game of hide-and-seek and her first friend. Carnavas’s loosely drafted and warmly painted images easily capture the story’s emotional ups and downs (at Jessica’s lowest point, the illustrations turn cardboard brown). While it’s never really clear why Jessica is so attached to the box in the first place, the story is valuable for its portrait of a believably nervous child whose physical disability is entirely incidental to the challenges she faces. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)