Book: The Invisible Boy
Author: Trudy Ludwig
Illustrator: Patrice Barton
Children’s Picture Book: Realistic Fiction
Reviewed By: Lindsay Prodorutti
Do you ever feel invisible? The Invisible Boy written by Trudy Ludwig introduces the reader to a young student named Brian. Brian is a quiet boy who feels invisible by his peers and teacher. He goes unnoticed and is left out of various activities such as lunch, recess, and birthday parties. Brian is a creative student who finds himself alone drawing pictures of pirates, aliens, and super heroes. Brian’s life changes when Justin, a new student, arrives at school. Brian is the first person to make Justin feel welcome in school. Brian and Justin become friends and the reader starts to see Brian transform.
This story teaches children the values of acceptance, friendship, and inclusion. The message is powerful and shows readers how one word or small act of kindness can change someone’s life. Ludwig’s purpose for writing this story is to inform children about common issues they face such as friendship and bullying. This picture book allows the audience to get a glimpse of bullying scenarios happening at the elementary level. According to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, school-based bullying prevention programs can help decrease bullying by as much as 25%. The text is not just eye-opening for its target audience; it is also a great reminder for adults to pay close attention to ALL children. The character Mrs. Carlotti, Brian’s teacher, shows how easily adults can overlook the “quiet” child. Reading relatable text to children about acceptance, friendship, and inclusion exposes children to everyday behaviors and the impact it has on the child or other children. A similar text, Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon written by Patty Lovell, introduces children to another character who shares Brian’s experiences. In this story you meet a young girl, Molly Lou Melon, who is also not being included by her peers in school. The reader will encounter a young girl’s perspective regarding this topic and the strategies she uses to “stand tall” against her bully.
In the book The Invisible Boy, author Trudy Ludwig uses age appropriate language throughout the text. The book’s aesthetics in terms of page format and presentation are impressive. The amount of words per page, overall text length, and arrangement of words appears to be well thought out and intentional. The literary style and craft of this book is appropriate for the realistic fiction genre. The characters in the story are extremely relatable to the target school age audience. The teasing on the playground and cafeteria is suitable for the primary grade reader. Children may be able to relate to similar experiences the main character encounters. An area where the book is lacking is in regards to cultures being represented and accurately depicted throughout the storyline. Ludwig exposes the reader to diverse characters to get her message across to readers, but does not expand by giving in-depth information about traditions and cultures.
Illustrator Patrice Barton does an excellent job working through the book by giving the reader the whole experience from start to finish. Each page has a meaningful layout and includes clear font accessible for all readers. Barton uses soft colors and pictures to bring a gentle light and glow throughout the entire story. Readers are able to get a better understanding of the characters in the story by viewing the illustrations. Every pink cheek, hairstyle, freckle and student artwork comes to life on each page. The sketching of all of the characters is easy on the eye and adds a movement effect. Barton uses a variety of mixed media, such as color pencil sketching, 3-dimenisonal, and collage. The most powerful meaning behind the artwork is the message the illustrator is revealing. The main character, Brian, begins the story being drawn in a black and white sketch. When Brian begins to feel included by his peers he starts to gain color. The reader can enjoy the aesthetics of the illustrations and really appreciate the emotions being conveyed through the manipulation of artistic elements.
I highly recommend The Invisible Boy as a resource for counselors, teachers, librarians, and parents. The message is concise for the primary grade reader and Ludwig and Barton demonstrate a clear understanding of everyday school dynamics and situations. This story can be utilized as a resource to share with children at the beginning of their school year when discussing friendship, inclusion and acceptance of others. The book allows children an open opportunity to share with an adult about their feelings or connections they have with the story.
Don’t disappear…Let people see you!