The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Invisible Boy 9781582464503_p0_v1_s260x420The Invisible Boy

Trudy Ludwig, Author

Patrice Barton, Illustrator

Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House for Kids, Fiction, Oct. 8, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes: Feeling invisible and left out, Popularity, Friendship, School

Opening: “Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?  Even Mrs. Carlotti has trouble noticing him in her classroom.  She’s too busy dealing with Nathan and Sophie.”

Synopsis:  Brian feels invisible to his teacher and friends at school.  He is with them, but  not really.  At lunch he eats alone.  At recess the other kids don’t pick him to play on their kick-ball team.  During class when the other children play board games and read, Brian draws dragons, pirates, space aliens and super heroes.   When Mrs. Carlotti introduces Justin, a new student to the class, the other kids poke fun at his Korean lunch.  Brian draws Justin a special picture to make him feel better.  Justin invites Brian to work with him on a school project.  Brian’s artwork shows his unique talent and the students notice.

What I like about this story:  What child has not felt invisible at some time in school.  Trudy Ludwig masterfully tells a heartfelt story about a boy who wants to belong, but is ignored by others.  Even his teacher doesn’t pay a lot of attention to Brian because she has to deal with other high-maintenance children in the classroom.  Brian is kind-hearted and finds his own way to make a friend and gain the acceptance of the other students.  Ludwig’s book is an excellent resource for any parent or teacher looking for material that addresses shy and quiet students.  It is isn’t preachy and Brian solves his own problem.  Patrice Barton’s artwork is creative and perfect for the book.  The cover is in muted pastels which sets the tone for the story.  In the beginning pages, Brian is a black and white sketch, while the classroom is shown in full color.  When Justin befriends Brian, a little color begins to appear.  As Brian asserts himself in the class project he is revealed in full color.  This a great collaborative effort between Ludwig and Barton.

Resources:  Ludwig has included a backpage of questions for classroom discussion and suggested reading lists for adults and children.  I received a poster with an educator’s guide, activities and questions for group discussions and goal-setting.  Ludwig is a nationally known author whose work focuses on helping children cope with and thrive in the social world.   She is an active member of the International Bullying Prevention Association and a sought-after-speaker.  Visit Trudy Ludwig at her website.  Random House has created a free Bullying Discussion Guide for teachers and librarians to use with Ludwig’s books.  It includes ready-made lesson plans and activities that follow the common core state standards.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Bully – Bully Prevention Month

Bully

Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator

G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for:  Grades 3-5

Theme: Cyberbullying, Friendship, Popularity, Schools

Opening“It was my first day at my new school.  I lived right across the bay from the Golden Gate Bridge now, and it was beautiful to look at, but it wasn’t home yet, and I dreaded going to school.  I missed my old school — and all my friends.  My stomach was churning and my heart was pounding out of my chest.” 

Synopsis:  Lyla quickly makes friends with Jamie.  They eat lunch together and watch sci-fi movies on Fridays.  Jamie is also computer savvy and helps Lyla set up a Facebook page on her computer.  Lyla makes the cheerleading squad and wins some awards at school.  The popular girls take note of her and invite her into their group.  Lyla begins to pays less attention to Jamie.  But, when Lyla watches her new friend Gage surf the computer to leave nasty and hurtful remarks on the Facebook pages of targeted classmates, including Jamie.  Lyla drops out of their group and hangs out with Jamie.  This clique of girls is mean.  When Lyla musters the courage to stand up to Gage about her bullying behavior towards Jamie and other kids, the girls take revenge.  Lyla finds herself the target of an even bigger cyberbullying scheme.

Why I like this book:  This is the first picture book I’ve seen for older kids that  deals with cyberbullying.  Patricia Polacco has written a much-needed book on such an important topic.   It is an excellent book that escalates when the cheerleaders take revenge and steal achievement tests.  But, Polacco is crafty in her judgement to let the students solve the problem on their own, with Jamie’s superb computer skills.  Polacco talks about bullying in a note to her readers at the end.   “I myself was a victim of teasing because of my learning disabilities.  In my case, this involved only a few other children.  But if e-mail, text messaging, blogging, and tweeting had existed in my time, I would have felt the entire world scrutinizing and passing judgment on me.  I wrote this book on behalf of children everywhere.” 

Resources:  This is a great discussion book for the classroom.  Check out the National Bullying Prevention Center.  They have a special site for kids and teens to join against bullying.   Click here to visit Patricia Polacco’s website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.