Things Not Seen

Common Sense Media says

Invisibility isn't all it's cracked up to be.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

An excellent story that shows the importance of being "seen".

Positive role models

Even though his parents are all-too-eager to hide the truth about what
happened to him from the world, Bobby bravely stands his ground and
demands to be "seen." He proves himself a positive role model with real

Not applicable

Whenever Bobby goes out he must take off his clothes to keep from being seen.


The mother is described as swearing, initials but no actual words are written.


Several products and stores mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A minor character is described as having taken drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although the 15-year-old protagonist's overnight invisibility seems wildly implausible, there are many positive messages young readers can glean from his experiences.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Bobby is frustrated by his parents, like most teens, and feels invisible in school. But when he wakes up one morning he discovers he really is invisible. Unlike most kids in books, the first thing Bobby does is tell his parents, and he quickly discovers being invisible isn't as much fun as you might think. Bobby becomes a prisoner in his own house -- in midwinter Chicago going around without clothes isn't too much fun, and clothes walking around without a person inside them draws unwanted attention.

Things get even more difficult when his parents are in a car accident and hospitalized for several days, leaving Bobby on his own. But in this day and age a boy can't just disappear without first his school and then Child Protection and the police getting involved, suspecting that he has been the victim of foul play. So Bobby must find a way to become visible again before his parents are arrested.

Is it any good?


Lest anyone accuse him of falling into a rut with his middle-grade school stories, Andrew Clements (author of Frindle, among others) has written a YA novel with a science-fiction twist that has little to do with school. Clements pursues his premise logically. What would the real-life consequences be in this unreal situation?

Unlike other invisibility stories, Bobby neither enjoys his predicament, nor does he use it for any questionable purposes. He just wants his life, such as it was, back. This doesn't have the joyous, grinning-all-the-way-through, everything-happens-as-it-should feeling of his middle-grade books. But fans who have graduated from Clements' earlier books will find he hasn't lost his talent for a gripping story with a satisfying ending.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Bobby's invisibility, which at first glance seems like it would be a great thing, turns out to be a real problem.

  • How would you deal with being invisible?

  • What kinds of things would you

  • do if you knew nobody could see you?

  • Have you ever felt "invisible,"

  • figuratively speaking? If so, why? And what did you do about it?

Book details

Author:Andrew Clements
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:April 3, 2005
Number of pages:251
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

This review of Things Not Seen was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byMs. Di April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


An Electric Blanket! What! I couldn't get passed the science to even enjoy the relationships in this story. This book was one of the worst children's book I've read in a long time. Sad, Sad because A.C. is one of my very favorite authors. I use many of his books in my class room. This one I actually threw out!
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Read to everyone 9 and up

Andrew Clements is 1 of my favorite authors and I only read 2 of his books!
Teen, 16 years old Written byjCheeka August 13, 2009

Great Book!

i read this book for summer reading, and i loved it! it taught me that, even though in the novel bobby was physically invisble, there are real teenagers out in the world that are truly forgotten and ignored. Bobby was a like-able character young children can easily look up to,
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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