Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Starred Review. Irish author Parkinson (Sisters... No Way!) makes a memorable American debut with her insightful novel centering on Jake, a thoughtful, inquisitive 11-year-old who aspires to be a fish painter. While buying nappies for his newborn sister, Jake discovers by his side a "greyhound thin" girl named Stella, with several younger siblings in tow, who offers him advice on which nappies to purchase. In parting, she suggests Daisy as a name for the new baby. When Jake arrives home, his mother uncannily also suggests Daisy as a name for the infant, and soon thereafter Jake comes home to find Stella (who's come to meet Daisy) chatting with his mother. Parkinson thus neatly paves the way for the friendship that grows between Jake and Stella; the boy becomes enmeshed in the bustle of Stella's eccentric clan as he jockeys for a position in his own changing family. His mother and the loving man who has helped raise Jake (his biological father left when Jake was a baby) are besotted by Daisy and decide to get married at her christening. The author shapes characters of uncommon depth, including Stella's wise and caring elderly next-door neighbor, who befriends the children and gives the tale further emotional dimension. Two life-changing moments occur for Jake, one triumphant, the other tragic (as foreshadowed from the novel's opening line). The hero's maturation makes for both a heartbreaking and uplifting story of what constitutes friendship and family. Ages 11-14. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 6-8-Thinking and talking are 11-year-old Jake's favorite things, next to football and fish. When eccentric Stella Daly follows him home one day, convinced he could be a friend, she is right. And Mrs. Kennedy, an elderly new neighbor, takes an interest in both children. The third big change comes with the arrival of Jake's baby sister. At first resentful of her and his parents, he grows to bond with Daisy. But trouble lies ahead. Jake and Stella have a falling out. Then one day the accidental death of one of Stella's sisters alters all of the characters' lives forever. With the help of Mrs. Kennedy, Jake puts aside his anguish to be a true, supportive friend to Stella. Parkinson examines invisible, fragile ties among people, sometimes calling for self-examination in order to focus on others who may be, as Mrs. Kennedy puts it, more "important" than oneself at any given time. She infuses Jake with strength that he did not realize he had. The development of Stella's family is a little bare-bones in terms of why they are so eccentric, so quick to change moods, and readers need to know more about them to understand Stella's behavior. Still, Something Invisible is a quality novel that will appeal to readers interested in words and how they define relationships, and who prefer thoughtful, wise books over those teeming with action and adventure. For any child experiencing what Jake is going through, this is an ideal read.-Tracy Karbel, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 4-7. In this quiet, character-driven novel, Parkinson lyrically examines one boy's summer of self-discovery. Eleven-year-old Jake's favorite things are thinking and talking . . . next to football and fish. What he doesn't care for is his baby sister's crying, his stepfather's clumsy attempts to befriend him, and his friend Stella's gaggle of younger siblings that follow them everywhere. But it is through Stella's loving example that Jake learns to appreciate being a big brother, and it is Stella who points out that he actually has One more father than most people. When one of Stella's little sisters is killed in a tragic accident that Jake feels inadvertently responsible for, he must learn to overcome his feelings of guilt to be the kind of friend to Stella that she has been to him. Using an economy of words, Parkinson has created a thoughtful, introspective story of love, loss, and the strength of families that is reminiscent of Kevin Henkes' Olive's Ocean (2003) . The secondary characters are fully realized, and short chapters, along with brisk dialogue, pace the narrative nicely to its satisfying conclusion. --Jennifer Hubert Copyright 2006 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate) This finely crafted Irish import examines the ""something invisible"" that creates relationships among individuals. Eleven-year-old Jake is a loner, a boy who wants to be a painter when he grows up and who lives with his mother and his dad, who (we find out later) is not his father. When they astonish him by having a baby (""You don't think of your mother as a reproducing female, as if she's a classroom pet....""), he meets Stella while reluctantly buying nappies. Stella is a quick, charismatic girl with what seems like dozens of siblings, and her messy household becomes a refuge for Jake from the questions the new baby has caused him to begin asking about his own family. The book is a careful exploration of relationships and perspectives, of tragedy averted by mistake and tragedy fulfilled, also by mistake. Jake is at the center of this quiet maelstrom, frantically trying to figure out how he relates to the various people in his life, from the aging Mrs. Kennedy, who understands him when no one else does, to his little sister Daisy, whom he can comfort when no one else can. Each emotion is meticulously held up to light, and is as true as the resolution, which comes with the understanding that keeping on is the only alternative. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
In this thoughtfully crafted story, an engaging, overly analytical Irish boy learns the importance of family and friendship. Eleven-year-old Jake is a walking encyclopedia. Next to football and fish, thinking and talking are his favorite things. Jake is so self-absorbed he fails to notice his mother is pregnant. After his baby sister Daisy arrives he feigns indifference, especially when his mother and stepfather seem completely besotted with their little "miracle." Then Jake meets Stella, an eccentric girl in pink ballet slippers obsessed with collecting beautiful words, and Mrs. Kennedy, Stella's perceptive, equally eccentric elderly neighbor. In their own ways, Stella and Mrs. Kennedy befriend the confused and marginalized Jake. Jake becomes a local hero when he rescues a drowning child, but later blames himself when he is unable to save Stella's youngest sister from a terrible accident. Eventually baby Daisy, Mrs. Kennedy and Jake's kindly stepfather help him see he "might just be very important," but not in the way he thinks. Told with humor and insight, Jake's story should appeal particularly to quiet, sensitive kids. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.