The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, illustrated by Patrice Barton, is an empathetic story about a little boy who feels invisible amidst his boisterous classmates. Brian is a quiet boy. On top of that, his busy teacher, Mrs. Carlotti, has so many children she has to contend with. Like Nathan, who uses his outside voice too much, and Sophie, who whines and complains when she doesn’t get her own way. Brian’s left out of birthday parties and games. He ends up playing by himself, drawing dragons and space aliens and pirates. At the beginning, in Barton’s beautiful, gentle illustrations, he’s drawn in black & white while everything around him is in color. That is, until a new boy arrives in class. Justin eats strange food at lunch with chopsticks. The other children laugh at him, but Brian draws Justin a picture and the two boys become friends. Then Brian bursts into full color and the children start to recognize and accept him for his own, particular talents.
A wonderful read-aloud story that will show children the power of empathy and the hurt of exclusion, The Invisible Boy, which got a starred review from SLJ, will be a welcome addition in any classroom or family. There are questions for discussion at the end, as well as a reference list of other books for the parents of children who may be having a hard time fitting in.