written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas
2015 (Kane Miller); Released in Australia in 2008
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
** Available in March, 2015.
Jessica's mind was too busy for sleep. Her thoughts were already with tomorrow.
Jessica is facing her first day of school and she is nervous. What if she doesn't make friends? Despite the assurances of her family, Jessica takes no chances and places a secret something in her box. At lunchtime, her classmates gather around her box. When she shows what is in the box, they are not impressed. Despondent, Jessica tries something different the next day. It works as the class loves what is in the box. Unfortunately, they don't really notice Jessica and she is left with an empty box. It isn't until she accidentally discovers an important piece of life advice that Jessica finds friendship.
I have praised Peter Carnavas here and here before. Why? He may be the best author/illustrator that you don't know about. His stories are simple yet profound. Jessica's Box is a story about making friends and being yourself. Familiar subject? Yet in the hands of Carnavas, you have a sweet but not overly sweet tale and illustrations that make your heart melt. I can also count on a clever ending from him and this book doesn't disappoint.
In a primary classroom, there are always issues about friendship and getting people to like you. Jessica's Box is an indispensable resource that you can read to get students thinking about kindness and being themselves. A possible activity in the classroom would be to have students bring in a box with items about themselves that they can share with others. Older students could read this book and think about problem and solution.
Do yourself a favor and ask your librarian for books by Peter Carnavas. It will be worth the effort.
*Jules at Seven Impossible Things has a great post about this book right about here!