Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
"Can you see Brian, the invisible boy?" Ludwig (Better Than You) asks readers. Brian's classmates seem to see right through him when it comes to the lunchroom, playground, or birthday parties. Even Brian's teacher is too busy with the kids who "take up a lot of space." A new kid named Justin notices Brian's kindness and drawing talent, and he matter-of-factly changes the paradigm ("Mrs. Carlotti said we can have up to three people in our group," Justin tells a classmate who wants to exclude Brian). Gradually, Brian-whom Barton (I Like Old Clothes) has heretofore depicted in b&w pencil with sad, vulnerable eyes-becomes a smiling, full-color character. Ludwig and Barton understand classroom dynamics (Barton is especially good at portraying how children gauge the attitude of their peers and act accordingly) and wisely refrain from lecturing readers or turning Justin into Brian's savior. Instead, they portray Brian's situation as a matter of groupthink that can be rebooted through small steps. It's a smart strategy, one that can be leveraged through the book's excellent discussion guide. Ages 6-9. Illustrator's agent: Christina A. Tugeau, CATugeau. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 2-Brian feels invisible. His teacher hardly notices him, the other kids never invite him to play, and he eats lunch alone. But he loves to draw, so at recess, he creates comics about greedy pirates, battling space aliens, and superheroes with the power to make friends everywhere. One day, a new boy, Justin, joins the class. The other children make fun of him for eating Bulgogi, a Korean dish, but Brian slips him a friendly note. When it is time to find partners for a class project, Justin asks Brian to join him and another boy. Brian's artistic talents come in handy, and finally he is no longer invisible. This is a simple yet heartfelt story about a boy who has been excluded for no apparent reason but finds a way to cope and eventually gains acceptance. Barton's scribbly illustrations look like something Brian may have made. Pencil sketches painted digitally are set against lots of white space, and sometimes atop a background of Brian's drawings on lined notebook paper. At the start of this picture book, Brian is shown in shades of gray while the rest of the world is in color, a visual reminder of his isolation. Color starts to creep in as he is noticed by Justin. Once he becomes part of the group, he is revealed in full color. The thought-provoking story includes questions for discussion and suggested reading lists for adults and children in the back matter. Pair this highly recommended book with Jacqueline Woodson's Each Kindness (Penguin, 2012) for units on friendship or feelings.-Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
For the first half of Ludwig's picture book, a lonesome-looking boy appears rendered in gray and white. Even the teacher has no time for invisible Brian, as she is busy dealing with the noisy children in her class. Brian, with his big glasses and toothy smile, gets his hopes dashed when he isn't picked for the kickball team. He finds solace in his drawings, where fire-breathing dragons scale tall buildings and superheroes have the power to make friends. When new student Justin arrives, Brian befriends him when the others don't, and they become buddies and even add a third boy to become a trio. Now visible in glorious color, Brian and his new friends present a project to their newly appreciative classmates. The joyful last pages show Brian with the children playing happily in real and imaginary activities. Brian's childlike drawings, done in ink and collage, are spot-on in representing the way children depict their imaginary world and their very real feelings. Questions for Discussion in the back matter provide guidelines for teachers and parents.--Gepson, Lolly Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Shy Brian often goes unnoticed by his rowdier classmates. Then Brian comes out of his shell to make a first gesture of friendship with a new student, easing him into socialization. Digitally painted pencil sketches deftly convey Brian's gradual evolution from black-and-white "invisibility" to full-color inclusion by newfound friends. Helpful discussion questions and suggestions for further reading about introverted children are appended. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity. Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher's attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian's isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian's colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian's classmates are spread around him on the ground, "wearing" his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children. Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.