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.