A little girl who is new to school uses a cardboard box to make friends.
As soon as she is noticed on the first day, Jessica lifts her teddy bear out of her box—but the children either laugh or walk away. On the second day, she fills her box with cupcakes, but as soon as the other children snatch them up, they leave without even a “thank you.” Her dog, Doris, goes to school in the box on the third day; she is an instant hit—but the groundskeeper takes Doris back home: “Can’t bring dogs to school.” On the fourth day she brings her box, empty, then puts it over her head. “She just wanted to disappear.” But a little boy spots her and begins a game of hide-and-seek: She’s made a friend at last. Carnavas tells his story with a minimum of words, counting on his spacious cartoons to fill in the gaps. Most notable among these is Jessica’s use of a wheelchair, a fact that is never concealed but that is nevertheless de-emphasized in favor of Jessica’s emotions. It’s not quite clear how old Jessica is, and readers may feel that her bringing a teddy bear to school is as silly as her classmates do, but that won’t stop them from empathizing with the lonely little girl. Carnavas’ Bob Graham–esque cartoons use color and humor in equal measure to create a winning protagonist.
The message is clear: Just be yourself, and friends will come. (Picture book. 4-7)