Clements, Andrew. Things Not Seen. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2002. ISBN: 0-439-45620-7.
Things Not Seen, “is a tale about sight and insight, as well as the fanciful theme of
actual invisibility.”(Rohrlick). The story is about Bobby, a 15 year old,
who wakes up one morning to see that he is “gone”. He is still
in his own house, but he has become invisible to others. After he tells his parents,
they agree that it should be kept a secret from society. They fear Bobby might
be abducted by the government to become the center of scientific investigation. With
the help of Alicia, a blind girl, and her family Bobby and his parents find out the cause of his problem. Therefore, he performs an experiment to try to reverse his condition.
The New York Times praised Andrew Clements for his books. They
state, “Readers love his books precisely because they reflect the emotional and cultural reality of today’s children
and their school life”. Bobby feels that he has always been invisible both
to his parents and to others in school, especially the popular crowd. He does
not have any true friends until he meets Alicia. Although Bobby’s invisibility
is the main issue in the story, his emotions and concerns along with Alicia’s blindness play a very important role in
the development of the story. Each with his own disability, Alicia and Bobby
are able to develop a very close relationship based on loneliness and a desire to be understood by someone.
Bobby’s relationship with his parents takes a very different perspective as they cope together
with his new condition. At the beginning of the story Bobby has a very frivolous
relationship with his parents. A relationship in which everyone performs his or her daily duties without being very concerned
about the feelings and experiences the other members of the family have. Even
though Bobby and his parents disagree in many things, they become a team that is willing to work together to assimilate and
overcome his invisibility.
Although Bobby takes advantage of his invisibility to get what he needs, such as the list from Sears,
the author could have included more daring acts that reflect the mischievous spirit of today’s teenagers. In this sense Bobby acts more like an adult, in other words he acts too responsibly.
Things Not Seen is appropriate
for students in grades 5 through 8. It may be used to explore how teenagers cope with physical disabilities. We can compare and contrast Alicia’s disability, blindness, and Bobby’s disability, invisibility,
by exploring how each one changed their daily routine and affects their daily life.
Students may elaborate on their own feelings in regards to experiencing either of these disabilities or to others who
experience any disability.
Rohrlick, Paula. Andrew Clements: Things Not Seen Book Review.
Kliatt, March 2002. At http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PBX/is_2_36/ai_107124142. Retrieved on July 30, 2005.
Mcormick, Patricia. New York Times on the Web: Children’s Books. June 18, 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/06/18/reviews/000618.rv070831.html. Retrieved on July 30, 2005.