Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Schwa Was Here

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman, 2004

Calvin Schwa seems to be invisible. Now you see him, now you don't. Antsy Bonano and his group decide to study this "Schwa effect" and use it for financial gain by taking wagers on Calvin's ability to enter improbable places unseen. The scheme is profitable until they accept a bet to steal a dog dish from the home of Mr. Crawley, the neighborhood eccentric. The Schwa is discovered by Crawley who can see him very clearly. As punishment, Calvin and Antsy become dog-walkers for the old man's 14 dogs. Later Crawley asks Antsy to befriend his visiting granddaughter, Lexie, who is blind. Schwa, Antsy and Lexie set out to discover to find out what happened to Calvin's mother. Is his "invisibility" tied to his past?

This detailed story is a page turner. Schusterman writes with compassion and humor.

As someone who works in a school setting, I found the story very moving because these "invisible" kids are in our classes. They are quiet, engaged and self sufficient so we sometimes overlook them. So much of a teacher's attention is consumed by high-needs students but the quiet ones also need all the recognition and acknowledgement that their teachers and friends can give them. The Schwa reminds me to make an even greater effort to keep these kids on the radar!

This book is a great YA read but would also be appreciated by kids in 4th grade and up.

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