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Friday, October 16, 2015

InvisiBill, written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Dusan Petricic. Tundra Books, Random House. 2015. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Nobody even looked at him.
Bill's mother (a very busy
woman with an important job)
was busy discussing something
important with his father (an
important man with a busy job)."

Every child must, at some point, feel exactly as Bill feels when he asks for the potatoes and no one in his family even notices. They are busy with their own affairs. One thing leads to another until everyone is paying close attention to his sister who is juggling the 'edible tubers' that Bill has requested. That's when it happens ... Bill turns invisible. Yikes!

We are living at a time when there are so many distractions, and such demands for our attention, that some of the basic tenets of family life are being cast aside. Kids are very vulnerable to our lack of attention, and often feel that they don't really matter in our rush to react to all that is bombarding us. They feel as if they have no power and are easily frustrated by being ignored.  We all want (and deserve) to have a voice.

While done with a humorous tone, it is a tale that needs to be told today, I think. All Bill wants is someone to pass the potatoes, please.  It isn't until dinner is finished, and the family is preparing to clean up, that they notice he is nowhere to be found. Once he gets their attention, they are angry that he has chosen to be 'invisibill'. A trip to the doctor is arranged. The doc prescribes permanent markers. Looking like a pumpkin head, he goes to school where he is laughed at and chided all day long.

It's too much. Bill leaves his family a note, and returns to invisibility. In the morning, he is missed:

"Where's Bill?" asked Bill's brother and sister, who did not want to get stuck taking out the trash by themselves." 

Perhaps, that is all I need to say.

Dusan Petricic created his fascinating artwork in pen and ink, then colored in Photoshop. His images add depth through his use of frames to contain the characters and the action. His humorous expressions and situations enhance this quirky story of a boy who longs to be noticed by his busy, distracted family.

I would love to share this in a classroom, and see what the audience has to say about it!

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