Book Review: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Patrice Barton

The Invisible Boy is a picturebook written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton. Brian is the invisible boy. He seems to be invisible in line, while teams are being chosen to play games, at lunch, and just about all the time. So, Brian often loses himself in his art to distract himself from going unnoticed. When a new boy joins his class Brian is left to wonder if it is better to be invisible or picked on. He reaches out to the new boy and in turn is given a moment of his own to shine.

The Invisible Boy is a story that I can heavily relate to. There were many times in my life (elementary school through college as well as among family and friends) where I have felt invisible. Like Brian, it is rarely because anyone doesn't particularly like you, but because teachers know they do not have to worry about you, that you are doing what you need to do rather than needing the extra effort. However, many do not realize how it feels to be the average kid that just kid of fades into the background, the reliable or steady one that needs no reminders of reprimands but also doesn't hit the home run for run faster than the rest. This book highlights that feeling, and can both make others (kids and adults alike) more aware of what others might be feeling while letting those that feel invisible that they are far from alone. Like Brian we might wonder if getting picked on or yelled at is worse or better than feeling invisible, and I like that Brian goes the extra mile to make sure the new kid knows that he is welcome and that not everyone will pick on him. Like most small acts of kindness, Brian's action brings the new boy to do one as well and is rewarded for his efforts. My favorite part of this exchange is that it does not feel like a direct tit for tat exchange, but rather one good deed inspiring another to be good as well. Perhaps the story shared in a family or classroom setting can inspire a spread of good feelings and kind gestures.

I would highly recommend The Invisible Boy for library, home, and classroom collections. I feel like the illustrations do a wonderful job of expressing the feeling of the characters, and expanding on the story. I think it could spark great discussions about how we treat each other, being mindful of others, empathy, and the power of kind actions.

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