Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

Things start to go wrong for fifteen-year-old Bobby Phillips the day he wakes up and finds he’s invisible. When his parents, the only ones who know his secret, are involved in a car accident and need a hospital stay, Bobby has a double problem: find a way to become visible again, and do it before the state authorities, who are worried about him being home alone, find out. Can Bobby and his blind friend-turning-girlfriend Alicia make him visible again before the nosy social worker causes problems for his parents?

One of the great things about this book is its matter-of-factness. Sure, you can’t really turn invisible, but Clements makes this sound completely reasonable. Another strength is its main character. Bobby is the kind of guy you’d love to have for a friend. He’s positive and determined and good at taking risks to do things that are important. And so is Alicia. This book won the first ALA Schneider award in 2004. I know the Schneider award has to do with characters with disabilities (Rules is the most recent winner), but I honestly had to stop and think why this book dealt with disabilities. It took me a minute before I caught on. Alicia is blind. But it’s not a book about disabilities, which is what makes it so refreshing. It’s people who happen to have “disabilities” doing cool stuff.

Things Not Seen is followed by a sequel, Things Hoped For. Let’s hope Mr. Clements continues writing YA. He's certainly hooked this YA reader!

Posted by Rose Green


  1. Thanks for this review, and for the site in general. We get a lot of kids at my library who are very strong readers, but still pretty young, so it's sometimes tough to think of longer, more difficult books that are still content-appropriate. Your site is great for helping me remember what's OK and for coming up with new things to suggest. Thanks!

  2. I love this book. I'm a fan of Clements in general, but this one is my favorite. I've read it and also listened to it on audio. I was a bit disappointed with the sequel -- my expectations were probably too high -- but as a children's librarian, I am always happy to have _Things Not Seen_ to recommend to thoughtful readers.