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Jess
written by Mary Casanova
illus. by Jean-Paul Tibbles
Pleasant Company, 2002
ISBN-13:
(HC) 978-1584855941
(LB) 978-0613462136
(PB) 978-1584855187
Winter 2002 Children’s
Book Sense 76
National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) 2002 Honors Award
Mary, with fans young and younger,
at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas (2006)
 
Jess
Book Description:

Curious and full of energy, Jess takes her first-ever trip outside the United States to explore ancient Maya ruins with her parents—and discovers that even at age ten, she can make a difference! Book and adventure clothing, kayak and such are available from American Girl. Doll and accessories only available during 2006.

Jess with doll and accessories

With her first step off the airplane and into bright tropical sunlight, Jess McConnell begins an adventure. She and her parents are spending five months at an archeological dig of ancient Maya ruins in the Central American country of Belize. It’s Jess’s first time out of the United States. It’s her first time being home-schooled. And it’s her first trip without her older brother and sister to keep her company. But Jess is excited to explore a new place all on her own. She’s ready for adventure and anxious to discover just who Jess is.

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Real-life experience shapes new 'American Girl' tale by Maja Beckstrom.
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
From Mary's Scrapbook: Researching the Story
Mary and a friend, cooling off before paddling into
Barton Creek Cave, which is a mile and a half deep
and filled with countless bats.

Mary and her husband, Charlie, spent time at the
Mayan ruins of Caracol where Jess is set.

Archeologists at the Caracol site—just like Jess's parents—
live and work in cabanas during their stay.

Mary, observing tucans near a “sink hole? in Belize.

Research for a book set in another country means paying attention
to everything— from the people, to the architecture, and to the flora.
Here, a "Bird of Paradise" grows wild.

A Mayan family invited us to camp on their land. Here, Petronella
makes tortillas on a wood-fired clay oven. She and her family helped me
to create the character, Sarita, who Jess meets while in Belize.

As part of the research for writing JESS, Mary explored many caves.
This one held lots of ancient Maya pottery and artifacts.

Research for JESS included hunting for tarantulas
at night with flashlights. Yikes!
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