In this acclaimed picture book by a favorite author/illustrator, a young girl's imaginary friendship blossoms into something real. Though her parents insist that "there is no Jessica," Ruthie knows they're wrong. Readers privy to Ruthie and Jessica's many conversations — which take place close to the illustrations, in counterpoint to the story's conventional narrative — will understand. What a friendship it is! When Ruthie accidentally spills juice, Jessica takes the blame. When Ruthie's parents plan to go out for the evening, Jessica gets a tummy ache and needs them to stay home. Jessica even finds her way to the first day of kindergarten, where Ruthie makes her first visible friend...who happens to be named Jessica, too.
Kevin Henkes has written and illustrated myriad stories for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book Owen. His bouncy pictures, done in watercolor and black pen, abound with the details and nuances of childhood emotions and parental anxiety, all of which also come through in the crisp, evocative text. As in such favorites as Chester's Way and Chrysanthemum, Henkes has created a world of friendship that welcomes young readers and encourages them to stay.