The Invisible Boyby Trudy Ludwig (Author), Patrice Barton (Illustrator)
Brian feels invisible. His teacher hardly notices him as she is busy with other more noisy kids of the class. At lunch, he sits alone to eat his food. At recess his friends don’t include him any games they play. So Brian finds something he can do all by himself. He draws. He does it at recess and in the class exercises. He gets lost in his little world of pirates and space aliens and superheroes.
One day a new boy Justin joins his class. Brian hopes desperately that Justin and he could be friends. Justin is different too. He eats a Korean dish called Bulgogi and promptly gets laughed and teased at by others. Feeling sorry for the new boy, Brian sends him a small note with a neat drawing of himself eating Bulgogi. It says “Justin, I thought the bulgogi looked good. Brian.”
Later that day, Justin and Brian get together for a class project and they do a great job at it too. It seems to Brian finally, that he is no longer “invisible”!
What at first seems to be a simple story about bullying and classroom dynamics is really a wonderfully narrated and brilliantly illustrated picture book. Ludwig’s story tells of how simple acts of kindness and inclusiveness can help children to flourish.
Barton cleverly uses pencil sketch illustration to work through the emotions that Brian is feeling. One notices in the beginning of the story that Brian is colored and sketched in shades of gray, whereas the rest of the world around him are colored in bright colors, thus, highlighting the “invisibility” theme of the story. But as the story moves and Brian starts to feel more comfortable and included, color seems to creep into Brian. Finally he is revealed in full color.
What I liked the most is the how perfect this book is as a read aloud in a classroom. During our session, kids immediately noticed the graphic difference between Brian and the rest if the kids. Kids (surprisingly) immediately could tell what “The Invisible Boy” title really meant (that he is not really invisible, just not noticed). And as the story progressed there were strong empathetic comments shared by the kids.
Ludwig and Barton’s “The invisible Boy” is a great addition to any school library. There is a page full of Questions for Discussions for parents and teachers alike. On a final note, the author includes recommended reading for both adults and kids.
A truly poignant book on classroom relationships. This one is a MUST READ!