People don’t notice Jerry. If someone bumps into him, they don’t say sorry. If someone waves, it’s to somebody behind him. If he makes a joke, nobody laughs. He never gets picked last for sports teams, because he’s never picked at all. It’s like he’s invisible. Until Molly comes along.
Molly asks Jerry his opinion. She shares things with him. She laughs with him. She sees him. And it is then that Jerry realises he can pass on Molly’s gift.
Author Adam Wallace was inspired to write Invisible Jerry after hearing children talk about never being passed the ball during games, or never being spoken to at parties. In today’s busy world, there are a lot of people who feel like they’re on the outside looking in. This book helps bridge the gap. Wallace says the book is also for himself – the shy kid who never felt brave enough to step forward, but who was lucky to have people who lit him up and made him realise he had plenty to offer.
It’s full of heart and humour, and has a wonderful message. It will make those that read pause and reflect on their behaviours. Everybody will identify with the characters – whether you’re a Jerry, a Molly, or one of those that simply don’t see them. It will resonate with everyone to some degree. But rather than wallow in self-pity, Wallace ensures readers can find a way to help others, and themselves.
Illustrator Giuseppe Poli makes wonderful use of space and colour to really portray the story in pictures. The book opens to a unique double spread, almost completely in black and white. It inverts the story and gives a wonderful hint at what the book hides within.
Any book that helps children with transitions in life – think starting school, moving house, getting a new sibling – is a welcome addition. Invisible Jerry covers a topic not often seen in children’s books. Previous books on the topic have tended to focus on embracing your uniqueness. While that is no doubt an important message, it’s nice to see a picture book about helping others. Jerry learns that people will see his talents and how worthy he is, by having someone else take that first step with him.
The book drove some interesting conversations within our home. Children are naturally egotistical at a young age, Invisible Jerry helped inspire some wider thinking beyond their own selves. Teacher notes are also available for those that use it in their classroom.
Invisible Jerry is a simple, yet incredibly deep and thought-provoking, story for younger readers. Aimed at early primary students especially, it has a message that will resonate regardless of your age.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
EK Books, RRP $24.99