A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Invisible Emmie is a graphic novel about two very different middle-school girls: one self-conscious and insecure, the other confident and popular. Emmie feels left out at home (she's an "oops baby") and at school (she describes herself as quiet, awkward, and "flat as a pancake"). Emmie is targeted by a bully who shares a note Emmie meant to be private, making for a horrible day at school. Meanwhile, popular Katie is increasingly distressed over how Emmie is being treated -- and finds herself feeling more isolated as the day goes on. A surprising twist reveals that the two girls have more in common than anyone might expect. It's the first novel by Terri Libenson, best known for her comic strip The Pajama Diaries. And it's the first in the Emmie & Friends series.
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What's the story?
INVISIBLE EMMIE follows two girls having very different experiences in seventh grade. Emmie describes herself as "quiet, skinny, and flat," and she feels invisible. Aside from her friend Brianna, no one seems to notice or care about her. Katie is smart, athletic, pretty, and popular -- it seems to come naturally for her, though she works hard to succeed on so many fronts. Katie's delighted when Tyler asks her out. Emmie has a secret crush on him, too, and she and Brianna jokingly write love letters to their crushes. A class bully finds Emmie's letter and shares it throughout the school, leaving Emmie squirming in the spotlight. Katie wants to help her out -- but Emmie wants to find her own voice.
Is it any good?
Cartoonist Terri Libenson gets to the heart of middle school anxieties with her keenly felt -- and funny -- debut novel about two unalike seventh-graders having an emotional roller coaster of a day. Libenson, who focuses on family life in her comic strip, The Pajama Diaries, shows a deep understanding of how painful middle school can be for insecure kids in Invisible Emmie.
Libenson presents Emmie's story with smaller, detailed art in muted colors surrounded by text but tells confident Katie's story with large comics-style panels, bold lines, and bright colors. Emmie is self-deprecatingly funny, and it's easy to root for her as she starts to shed her overly sensitive skin. Katie's storyline might seem unsettling to readers: As she admirably confronts the boys mocking Emmie, Katie feels ignored and cast aside. The surprise ending resolves this nicely, but the message about standing up to unkind behavior gets a little muddled.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Terri Libenson
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: May 2, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 3, 2020
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