The Invisible Boy
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
By Trudy Ludwig
Illustrated by Patrice Barton
The Invisible Boy is a warm story about a shy and good-natured young boy named Brian who never gets any attention paid to him while he is in school. Quiet and well-behaved almost to a fault, Brian’s classmates barely notice him inside—or outside—class. When his classmates play kickball during recess, they don’t select Brian for either of the two teams. His classmate, Madison, invites everyone but Brian to her birthday party. Even Brian’s teacher, Mrs. Carlotti, is too busy chasing after restless students to notice him. Through perseverance, and an unexpected ally, Brian sheds his cloak of invisibility and takes his place as a valued member of his class.
Brian owes his transformation to a new student named Justin, who he quickly recognizes as a kindred spirit. During lunch, to everyone’s astonishment, Justin takes out a bowl of bulgogi and eats it with chopsticks. “Bul-what,” they ask, as they have no idea what bulgogi is. Justin explains that bulgogi is Korean barbequed beef, and that his grandmother made it for him. All the kids snicker and laugh at Justin’s lunch—except, of course, for Brian.
The next day, when Justin goes to his cubby in class to put away his backpack, he finds a note from Brian saying, “the bulgogi looked good,” along with a drawing of Brian enjoying the very same bulgogi that the other students had ridiculed. Justin loves the gesture, and thanks Brian during morning recess.
But Brian’s trials aren’t over. In class, Mrs. Carlotti asks students to form teams of two or three students for a school project. Before Brian can approach Justin, a student named Emilio claims Justin for himself and tells Brian to look elsewhere. Before Brian once again becomes invisible, Justin convinces Emilio to let Brian into their team.
As the story concludes, we see that Brian, Emilio, and Justin have become a great project team and even better friends. Thanks to Emilio and Justin’s friendship, Brian no longer sits by himself during lunchtime or stays on the sideline during recess. Brian is no longer “invisible.” now, he is just another student in Mrs. Carlotti’s classroom.
This inspiring story reminds us to think about whether our children are “invisible” in their classrooms. Speak with teachers to find out whether your children are a bit, “under the radar,” socially. If so, work with your children’s teachers to help them provide encouragement and support as your children seek to make friends with their classmates. Together, you and your children’s teachers can ensure that all students feel as though their thoughts, work, or presence are¬ valued—and visible.