Jessica's Box by Peter Carnavas (with support from Cerebral Palsy Alliance)

Jessica’s mind was too busy for sleep.
Her thoughts were already with tomorrow.
And when tomorrow came, everybody was excited.

Everyone in Jessica’s family is as excited about her first day at school as Jessica herself is. She is particularly excited about making lots of new friends. She takes her box with her to make sure of it. She knows that everyone will be as interested in sharing her box and its contents as she is. But school is a different place, and making friends isn’t as easy or automatic as she envisaged. A square hardback, ‘Jessica’s Box’ uses white space to echo Jessica’s initial silence as she tries to make friends. When she has their attention, the white space diminishes. When her efforts fail, the images fade to almost black and white. She keeps trying, but the results are not quite right, until she puts something extra special in the box. It works. Endpapers are a gentle sunny yellow and include a smaller version of the front cover image.

The first day of school is a biggie. For some children, it’s a day that can’t come too soon. Others approach the changes that school will bring with trepidation, despite the best preparation. ‘Jessica’s Box’ shows a child keen to go to school, but with an underlying unspoken anxiety about how it will all go. So she takes a familiar object, her box. Her box can be anything that she wants it to be. She is sure that it will facilitate friendships. The responses to her box are varied and not as she expects. She is trying to ‘buy’ friendship with the contents of her box. Only when she stops trying, does she inadvertently discover all she needs to make friends is herself. Recommended for pre-school to early-primary children, particularly those approaching school-age.

This new edition of ‘Jessica’s Box’ has an identical text to the original, but Jessica is shown in a wheelchair throughout. There is a dust jacket and the cover is pale green, rather than white. The publication is supported by Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Jessica’s disability is irrelevant to the story and is not mentioned at all. Plenty of opportunity for classroom discussion at many levels about the decision to re-release ‘Jessica’s Box’ with these new illustrations. Plenty of room for discussion about the depiction of disability in literature. Recommended for pre-schoolers, early-primary and beyond.

Jessica's Box

Jessica’s Box, auth/ill Peter Carnavas
New Frontier Publishing 2008
ISBN: 9781921042911

Jessica’s Box, auth/ill Peter Carnavas

New Frontier Publishing 2013ISBN: 9781921928574