Mentor Text Review: Jessica’s Box

  • Author and illustrator: Peter Carnavas
  • Publisher: New Frontier Publishing

Jessica’s Box, by Peter Carnavas, is the story of a girl who is starting school and is desperate to make friends. She tries different things to impress people and eventually decides to try being herself. This book was first published in 2008. It was a CBCA notable book in 2009 and a revised edition was published in 2013. The edition I suggest everyone purchases was made in conjunction with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance of Australia. In this edition the text is identical to the original, but the illustrations show the main character as being in a wheelchair. YAY!

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Writing:

IDEAS- the idea in this story is simple; a girl is nervous about making friends at her new school. This could spark writing about ‘first times’ your students have experienced. (First time to school, a sporting group, a new neighbourhood etc.)

ORGANISATION- the lead and resolution round this story off effectively. A range of connectives are used in this story (when tomorrow came, at first, by lunchtime).

VOICE- The author cares about this topic and you can hear the voice of Jessica (especially when she says, ‘not even a thankyou?’)

SENTENCE FLUENCY- There are a range of sentence lengths in here (including lots of short, simple effective sentences) and the whole story has
smooth and rhythmical flow.

Suggestions For Using This Mentor Text To Teach Reading:

INFERRING- Students could discuss reasons they think Jessica is nervous about going to school and why she is having trouble making friends. (Even better if you have both versions of this book to show students the reason isn’t related to her being in a wheelchair).

MAKING CONNECTIONS- encourage students to think about a time they have been nervous about a new beginning. What helped them? What made it harder? How is their story similar or different to Jessica’s?

PREDICTING- what do you think will happen in this book? Why?

QUESTIONING- discussing the fact that 2 versions of this book exist could lead to some rich discussion about diversity and inclusion. Ask students why they think the Cerebral Palsy Alliance paid for the illustrations to be redone. What impact does it have on the story? On the reader? Should more books have this level of inclusion?

The ADVANCED Writing Traits Masterclass is finally here!