Media/Award winning children’s book to change perceptions of disability amongst young Australians

Award winning children’s book to change perceptions of disability amongst young Australians

Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition of ‘Jessica’s Box’ published in time for Christmas

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Award winning children's book to change perceptions of disability amongst young Australians
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All children want to be accepted and make friends – disability or not. That’s the simple message in a newly published version of Jessica’s Box by award-winning author Peter Carnavas.

New Frontier Publishing has just released a Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition of Carnavas’ book Jessica’s Box where the main character – Jessica – is in a wheelchair.

In the original version, published by New Frontier in 2008, an able-bodied Jessica starts school and takes different things with her in a box each day in an attempt to make friends. She finally realises that all she needs to make friends is to be herself.

New Frontier’s Peter Whitfield, whose now adult son has cerebral palsy, said he wanted to publish a book where the main character was in a wheelchair, but it wasn’t the focus of the story.  He approached author Peter Carnavas who agreed to re-illustrate Jessica’s Box so Jessica was in a wheelchair.

‘All children have the same concerns about being accepted and making friends, regardless of whether they have a disability or not’, Peter Whitfield said. ‘I felt it was a gap in the market that there were no children’s books with the main character with a disability. Jessica’s disability and wheelchair are never mentioned in the story – they are just part of who she is.

‘This newly illustrated version of Jessica’s Box quite simply shows that disability or not, all children have the same concerns and worries about being accepted and often struggle developing the self-confidence to just be themselves.’

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition of Jessica’s Box will be distributed to schools throughout Australia by Scholastic in 2014. A special collector’s edition is available prior to Christmas.

Perri-Lee Sandell, who runs Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s school disability awareness program Just Like You! says the book is a perfect fit with the program’s messages of social inclusion.

‘Our program involves a presenter with a disability openly and honestly answering questions from primary school students about their disability and their experiences at school’, Perri-Lee said.

‘The program has had amazing success in helping primary school students understand that kids with a disability are, as the program name suggests, just like them, with the same worries, hopes and passions.

‘Having Jessica’s Box read and discussed by younger school students will help foster this important understanding and acceptance’, she said.

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition of Jessica’s Box is available in a CD-sized version for $9.95 or a larger special edition with dust jacket for $29.95. Orders can be made at

10% of profits of this special edition will be donated to Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

‘This is a Christmas present that will keep on giving’, Peter Whitfield said. ‘Not only is it a beautifully written and illustrated book, but the messages of social inclusion it contains have the potential to be life changing for an entire generation.’

Media Contact: Jennifer Durante – Media Manager – (02) 9975 8758 / 0419 802 602

Released on 5 Nov 2013