Today, I am showcasing a picture book that brought me to tears and then filled me with hope. The Invisible by Tom Percival is not only stunningly illustrated, it is a story that has been created from the heart. Based on Tom’s lived experience, The Invisible is the story of a girl called Isabel, living in poverty, who finds a way to bring the community together.
Isabel is a happy child, with a loving family. They don’t have much, but they have each other. But there is no escaping the fact that their house is cold. Very cold. So cold, Isabel’s bedframe has icicles.
One day, there isn’t enough money to pay the bills and they have to leave their home. Living in poverty, Isabel has lost her place in the world, no one sees to notice her anymore. She realises she’s become invisible.
No one can see her at all. But she can see more than she’s ever seen before. There are lots of other invisible people, also living in poverty, unnoticed by the smartly dressed people. Being invisible isn’t the only thing they have in common, they are all lonely too. That’s when Isabel realises it’s time to do something about it.
I could tell from the moment I opened the book that it was going to be special. It sent a chill down my spine as I looked at the powerful scene Tom had chosen for the end papers. It reminded me of my own childhood.
At the back of the book is a heart-felt note from Tom, sharing his own experience of growing up with very little money. He recalls how he remembers seeing ice on his bedframe in the family caravan, his home freezing, but also full of love and books. Books can be so powerful and The Invisible is a prime example of that. It is both gentle and thought-provoking, and gives a window into a life that for many goes unnoticed. Tom’s use of purples and grey helps you feel what Isobel is feeling. And at the end of the book, we feel uplifted, with Isobel finding a new sense of joy and belonging.
The Invisible is a refreshing, authentic picture book on poverty, a theme that is so often overlooked. For some children, The Invisible will be a glimpse into a way of life that they can barely imagine. For others, it may be the first time they can see their life reflected in a book. Either way, The Invisible acts as a reminder to every reader that we can all make a difference in the world.
Published by Simon & Schuster, 4 February 2021
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.