7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #416: Featuring Peter Carnavas

h1 January 25th, 2015 by jules


Today’s picture book is an import. Peter Carnavas’ Jessica’s Box was initially published in Australia back in 2008, but Kane Miller will bring it to U.S. shelves in March.

When we first meet Jessica, her mind is racing. It’s “too busy for sleep. Her thoughts were already with tomorrow.” And that’s because tomorrow will be her first day of school, and she’s eager to make new friends. When she shows up, she brings with her a big cardboard box. By lunchtime, though her box is neglected at first, curious children gather ’round, and Jessica reaches into her box to pull out a stuffed toy bear. The reaction Jessica wants isn’t exactly the one she’s met with: Some students laugh at her, and others ignore her. The next day, Jessica brings cupcakes. Needless to say, the treats are met with enthusiasm, but they’re consumed and forgotten. “Not even a thank you?” Jessica wonders.

Jessica keeps trying, yet she reaches the point of mild despair: “She just wanted to disappear.” So, she puts the box on her head one day. And a boy approaches and befriends her; he thinks she’s playing hide-and-seek. Later at home, when she tells her family she’s finally made a friend, her Grandpa says, “You must have had something very special in your box today.” Jessica smiles and responds, “I did.” (I read this at a bookstore story time yesterday—the story really seemed to get everyone’s attention—and found myself asking the children, “what was in her box?” “Her head,” one child said, which made me laugh.)

I love this sweet, but never saccharine, tale. Jessica’s family at home is warm and loving, yet they never coddle or overprotect her, letting her come to realizations about friendship on her own. In one particularly lovely spread, it was “Dad’s turn to talk to Jessica that night,” and the next illustration shows them outside together (Jessica on his shoulders), just looking into the sky: “They didn’t say very much.” Sometimes silence is best.

And, as you can see from the illustrations (which are somewhat reminiscent to me of the artwork of Ole Könnecke), rendered with a sunny, warm palette, Jessica is in a wheelchair. Yet the story isn’t some huge “issue” story about her having to overcome her disability or some such. Her lack of friends has nothing to do, in fact, with that, and never once does her wheelchair come up in conversation. I suppose one could argue that is why she’s nervous about school, but many children do, indeed, get apprehensive about the first day, wheelchair or not.

This one’s a gentle story, quiet and wise. It’s a keeper.

JESSICA’S BOX. First American Edition 2015. Text and illustrations © 2008 Peter Carnavas. Published by Kane Miller, Tulsa, OK. Illustration reproduced by permission of the publisher.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I forced this song I heard this week on all my music-lovin’ friends, because I immediately fell in love with it (and only listened to it about seven HUNDRED times).

2) New music from Laura Marling:

3) I don’t normally re-watch TV shows, but we re-watched season two of House of Cards, because season three will be here soon. And it’s so good. And on my second watch, I saw all new things to appreciate about the direction of and writing and acting in this show.

4) This panel discussion this past week went well, and it was wonderful to talk about this topic with Sharon Draper.

5) Thoughtful gifts from thoughtful friends.

6) A story time yesterday with very responsive children and their parents — and some great, brand-new picture books, including Jessica’s Box, which everyone seemed to really like.

7) The ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced a week from tomorrow!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

13 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #416: Featuring Peter Carnavas”

  1. Jessica’s Box is a wonderful book, but it never ceases to amaze me that the US cannot just take Australian books with the cover that they had here. There is no wheelchair on the cover of ours and as you say the story is not about Jessica’s disability so the subtlety of the story is overtaken by the disability before the book is even opened.

  2. Jessica’s Box looks wonderful. We are having all sorts of new friend issues here at our house. I will be sure to find this one.

    And you just got me so excited for House of Cards season 3 I can hardly stand it. It’s like anticipating Christmas morning- I really can’t wait!

    Victoria- So interesting about how the US cover is different. It really does change the whole tone of the story.


    1. My oldest and I are going in to the city today to see Natalie Babbit in a celebration of Tuck Everlasting’s 40th anniversary. Tuck is the first thought provoking book I remember reading and it my daughter’s too. We are so excited!
    2. We finally got snow yesterday. The girls were so excited. I had wished for snow this year but it seems I should be careful what I wish for- looks like we are getting a great big storm on Tuesday. One storm would have been perfect!
    3. Remembering that buying fresh flowers at this time of year is really helpful. They make the house seem warmer.
    4. A new coffee place in town that I love.
    5. My mom shipped us oranges from Harry and David and they are so yummy!
    6. Re-reading The Hunger Games so I can discuss it with my oldest daughter and it is so good all over again.
    7. And The Girl on the Train. So, so good!

    Happy Week Imps!

  3. I can see the resemblance to Ole Könnecke’s work, and it also brings to mind Bob Graham’s illustrations — I love what I see above, and the description of the story. Thanks for introducing this one to us, Jules!

    The Australian cover shows Jessica standing up, so the decision to depict her in her wheelchair for the US version seems reasonable to me.

    My kicks this week:

    1) Stevie Wonder box set from the public library. What’s not to love?

    2) I zip-lined for the first time. Even coming to an unexpected stop halfway across the cable was fun.

    3) It’s been a good week for revision. I don’t know why I’m always surprised when a manuscript gets better with repeated goings-over, but it’s a pleasant rediscovery each time.

    4) We met our new neighbors yesterday and learned not only that we have mutual friends, but also that we were all at the same Harry Potter movie marathon party a few years back.

    5) A cousin of mine is in town, so last night there was Mexican food followed by live music from a trippy Bowie tribute band.

    6) I’ve been reading nonfiction picture books from the Nerdy Book Club’s best-of-2014 list. Boy, are there some great ones on here: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/2014-nerdy-awards-for-non-fiction-picture-books-announced-by-cindy-minnich/

    7) After a few weeks away, my 11 y.o. and I resume agility classes today with our dog, Ernie. It’s hard to have a bad week when it starts with that.

  4. Hey Gang!

    What a lovely looking book. I’m going to have to keep my eye out for this one. I always have a soft spot for trouble fitting in stories.
    Jules – H of C!! We’re going to have to decide whether to renew Netflix now. Ugh.
    Hello Victoria
    Stacey – My kids are mad that we haven’t gotten snow but it looks like Tuesday’s storm is going to get us too.
    Chris – I think we are resistant to revisions because we’re afraid some of the magic could get lost. But usually it only gets better. Thanks for the NF picture book link.


    1 – 6 Health!!! The middle school blech blew through our house this week. I didn’t even get a chance to make my MLK Day cupcakes.
    7. My Uncle Bob. On Friday we had a funeral for my beloved Uncle Bob. He had a profound influence on me and my worldview. My heart is a little broken with him gone but I am grateful for our time with him.

    I hope everyone has a healthy week and that the snow doesn’t keep the kids out of school for too long.

  5. Hi Victoria. I hadn’t thought about that. I saw the original cover online while looking for the U.S. one, but I gave it a quick glance. Yes, the Australian cover has no wheelchair:

    I had thought at first that she was kneeling there, but she is standing, isn’t she?

    Stacey, Natalie Babbit! I hope we can get a report next week. Do you know I’ve never read The Hunger Games trilogy? I want to fix that. Stay warm this week! I’d love to have a big snow right about now. The grass is always greener …

    Chris, I’ll have to look up agility classes and what that means. Ernie is a great name for a dog. I WANT TO ZIP-LINE ONE DAY. Also, Stevie Wonder’s music makes life better.

    Moira: I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. Sending you lots of love … I hope the family is feeling better very, very soon.

  6. I am so glad you pulled up the Austalian book cover to compare with the US. I wonder why it changed for US. I think I like the original better. And what a story! Will get for the library.
    Jules:isn’t it fun to get a thoughtful gift from a thoughtful friend? The new Draper book looks great.
    Victoria: I totally agree with your thoughts about the cover of Jessica’s Box.
    Stacy: please report on Natalie Babbitt. I loved Tuck Everlasting.
    Chris: I agree with number 3. Love revising.
    Moira: the illness, sorry to hear. And the loss of an uncle who meant so much. I hope this week improves.
    My kicks:
    1. The words of Darcy Pattison from the revision retreat stayed with me this week.
    2. Having a haiku featured at Today’s Little Ditty on January 16.
    3. Time to hang out with my library teacher peeps after school. So needed!
    4. Book talking reader awards to fourth and fifth graders with the public library.
    5. Winter sunshine.
    6. Simple signs of spring.
    7. A thoughtful surprise from a friend.
    Have a great week.

  7. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello, Peter and Jessica! I love your description, Jules – that it’s a “gentle story, quiet and wise.” Huzzah.

    And Jules, I am glad your panel went well! Enjoy the new Laura Marling album.

    Victoria: I am always intrigued by cover changes, to see what is added or changed, for better or worse – what is accurate, what is inaccurate; what gives things away, what changes in style and description.

    Stacey: Have fun!

    Chris: Hope you and your daughter and your dog have fun. Hello to the new neighbors, kudos on the revising, and bonus points for zip line!

    Moira: My thoughts are with your family.

    Jone: The loveliness of the seasons.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Selections
    2) Preparations
    3) Rehearsals
    4) Meetings
    5) Dealing with it
    6) Errands
    7) Sharing

  8. Sorry, it appears that we have two versions of the book in Australia. So I was wrong when I wrote originally. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance re-commissioned an edition with Jessica in a wheelchair. The text remains identical, but the illustrations have been redrawn to show Jessica in a wheelchair and this version was published here in 2014.

  9. Love the illustrations this week, and love the story of Jessica’s Box. Friends are so important, and sometimes it can be a little tough to make them. (Although some of my favorite friendships were the most difficult nuts to crack, so to speak.)

    Jules -I have not yet checked out House of Cards, but love the cast. Its on my list. Glad the panel went well, and hooray for thoughtful gifts from thoughtful friends. Will check out the music later.

    Stacey – yay for snow, and a new coffee place. Hope Natalie Babbit was great, and stay bundled up this week,

    Chris – congrats on the cool new neighbors and ziplining.

    Moira – glad the sickness has passed, so sorry about your uncle, and hope y’all stay bundled up warm and safe this week.

    Jone – hasn’t the sunshine been awesome? Congrats on your haiku getting featured! And the thoughtful gift from a friend.

    LW – yay for rehearsals and selections! My favorite of yours this week is #7, sharing is the best.

    My kicks this week-
    1)Successfully did a DIY framing of my living room mirror this weekend. It came out great, and really helps put the finishing touches on the room.
    2) Friday night dinner with a friend who lives out of town, we went to Andina and had tapas dishes. The avocado stuffed with crab was amazing, as was everything else, including the wine and the company.
    3) Getting to go to last night’s Blazers game with another friend. It was a very exciting and fun game, and they won!
    4) Breakfast this morning with another visiting from out of town friend.
    5) Bringing Daisy some new (to her) stuffed animal babies from Goodwill today. The fluffy duck was quickly and joyfully decapitated this afternoon. Happy dog.
    6) Busy and fun work week, but still made it to the gym every day, which is something that almost never happened at my old job. So happy to have more work/life balance these days.
    7) Really loving Taraji P Henderson chew the scenery as Cookie on Empire. That woman can throw shade like nobody else.

    Hope everyone has a warm and safe week!

  10. Jone, I wish I could hear you booktalk! Glad you had a good week.

    Little Willow, I hope kick #5 isn’t for anything too terribly traumatic.

    Victoria: Ah. I see. (I think? I’ll have to try to find that THIRD cover. Thanks for the note!)

    Rachel: I love this notion of Daisy with her fluffy duck. .. Also, I just used the phrase “throw shade” in a picture book review, no less!

    Have a good week, all. ….

  11. Thanks so much for this post, Jules. And just to clarify we chose to publish the Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition of Jessica’s Box. We found it to be a lovely and important book.

  12. Aw. Wish this had been in print when my own Jessica was of a size to appreciate it… somehow, I think 18 is too old to get her first picture book with both her name AND a wheelchair in it, drat. Still, it looks gentle and sweet.

  13. I would love to purchase this book, but I find the published price on Amazon — $18.00 — pretty steep for a first grade classroom. I hope that it will be published in soft cover, because I think the message(s) about friendship and persistence important for young elementary school children. I will suggest it to our librarian, who is always on the lookout for a good book!

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