What You Need to Know:|
• Invisible Inkling is a charming, zany, funny, and warm story about a boy and his imaginary friend.
• Hank is being bullied and his imaginary friend saves him; this may sound heavy, but really it's not.
• This story is a great vehicle for the discussion of friendship, imaginary or otherwise.
Meet Hank: He lives in Brooklyn, and it is the summer time. September is looming because Hank's best friend is moving away to Iowa City, and Hank is going to have to face fourth grade all by himself. If that's not bad enough, when school starts, a bully sets his sights on Hank after Hank scores a soccer goal for the opposite team (oops!). The bully, Gillicut, steals his lunch, makes him throw out his garbage and generally scares the wits out of him.
Enter Inkling: Inkling is a bandapat, Hank's imaginary friend. He shows up just as things start to spiral out of control for Hank. Hank initially saves Inkling from Rootbeer, the English Bulldog who lives down the hall. At that point, Hank and Inkling become instant friends. Inkling has come to Brooklyn in search of squash (it's what bandapats live on), and it just so happens Hank's family owns The Big Round Pumpkin. Unfortunately for Inkling, it's actually an ice cream shop. He still sticks around because he believes in the Hetsnickle Debt. "Hetsnickle was a famous bandapat. The debt of honor is named after her." Hank has saved his life and Inkling will have to remain until he can return the favor. When the bullying reaches a head, that chance comes, as Inkling scares Gillicut off.
This story is so wonderfully creative - I just loved it. Hank is a really likable character who's in a really tough spot. He has model parents, but they are pacifists and not much help with the bullying situation. Neither, it seems, are the teachers and staff at Hank's school. As adults, we can only hope this isn't really the case in our schools. For the kids being bullied, I think this tale represents an authentic depiction of the isolation they must feel. I believe that Jenkins has handled a very real and serious situation with humor and sensitivity. Kids being bullied will definitely relate, and kids not being bullied will empathize. Most importantly, young readers will just enjoy this lively story filled with wonderful characters. Right now, it is a perfect choice as we slide into the end of summer and the new school year rapidly approaches.
2011, 160 pages
Friendship, Humor, Family Life, School, Imagination, Bullying, Urban
• Have you ever been bullied? What happened? How did it stop?
• Who is around to help you if you find yourself in Hank's situation? Whom can you go to for advice?
• What would you do if you saw someone else being bullied? Would you help? How?
• Did you think Gillicut bullied Hank for a reason? If so, what do you think was going through Gillicut's mind?
• Have you ever had an imaginary friend? What was he/she/it like?
•Why do you think Hank created Inkling?
• Do you think there was any chance Inkling was real? Why or why not?
This recommendation was written by: