Monday, December 10, 2018

MMGM- What Not to do if You Turn Invisible

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Welford, Ross. What Not to do if You Turn Invisible
October 9th 2018 by Schwartz & Wade Books
Public library copy

Ethel suffers from acute acne, and students at her school are not particularly nice about it, especially the evil Knight twins. They are even mean to Boyd, a new boy from London who makes friends at school right away by backing the wrong soccer team. Boyd has helped her move a free tanning bed to her garage, and is now presuming they are friends. After Ethel drinks some mail order herbal tea for her acne and sits too long in the tanning bed, she really needs a friend, because she turns invisible! Her grandmother (who is raising her), doesn't believe her, and she takes comfort in at least having Boyd know. There are lots of trouble that they can get into with Ethel being invisible, but there is also an intriguing mystery about her deceased mother and absent father. Just as Ethel is afraid that her invisibility might be permanent, the twins start blackmailing her, but she and Boyd find secrets about them as well. Will Ethel be able to get back to her "normal" life, acne and all?
Strengths: Ethel was one of the best characters I've read in a while. Her life isn't perfect, but she has a great attitude and makes the best of her. Her grandmother is WONDERFUL-- I love her distinctions between "common" and "vulgar", and all of the manners that she has taught Ethel. Boyd is fun, the British setting is very vivid, and even Ethel's great-grandmother at the nursing home has a good turn. Even though this is a bit on the long side (422 pages), it was a pleasant, quick read.
Weaknesses: Things got a little fraught near the end of the book; I had to put it down for a bit near the end when some decidedly unpleasant things occurred. Did that make the story better? Debating.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, although this will not be a particularly popular title, since very British books seem to confuse many of my children. For selected readers, however, this will be a fun read, and I'll hopefully have it available in the library for many years.


  1. Wow, sounds like a very unique storyline that will be quite enticing to middle graders! My initial concern would be the 422 pages, as you pointed out. But there are a great many readers at that age who prefer longer works. Do you happen to know if this a re-published title? Thanks for sharing, I'm happy to learn of this one!

  2. I can only imagine how many teens with acne would like to be invisible. I like that this topic is covered in a lighthearted manner, with a bit of magical realism.

  3. Wow. This sounds like nothing else I've heard of. Very original. I'm reading a British book right now and the language can be off-putting. (I'm still trying to figure out what "scratching" are -- something one would eat in a bar.) I think I would like the book. Thanks for the review.