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Book Review

Invisible Inkling has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Invisible Inkling” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Nine-year-old Hank Wolowitz lives with his family in New York City where his parents own The Big Round Pumpkin, an ice cream shop. Hank, who has a very active imagination, is sad because his best friend, Alexander Wainscotting, has recently moved to Iowa.

One day Hank reaches under the sink of his parents’ ice cream shop for a LEGO and feels fur. Confused, he looks under the sink but sees nothing. Hank is alarmed and tells his father, who doesn’t believe him.

Another day, Hank sees a waffle cone scooting along the counter. Then bites disappear until the cone is gone. Hank’s older sister, Nadia, thinks Hank is hallucinating. To take his mind off these unexplained phenomena, Hank goes with Nadia to walk Rootbeer, the neighbor’s French bulldog.

When Nadia hands Rootbeer’s leash to Hank so she can send a text to her boyfriend, the dog takes off running, dragging Hank along after him. Rootbeer is chasing something that neither Hank nor Nadia can see. Rootbeer stops and barks at an empty corner, so Hank waves his hand through the air in the corner and feels a warm, trembling ball of fur.

Hank realizes the animal is invisible and coaxes it up his arm and around his neck to keep it safe. To Hank’s shock, the animal speaks, begging Hank to save its life. Nadia drags Rootbeer back into the apartment.

Back home, the creature introduces itself as Inkling, a bandapat, and thanks Hank for saving its life. Inkling says he is in Hank’s debt until he can return the favor. Bandapats are endangered mammals, native only to the Peruvian Woods of Mystery. They are invisible, which helps their species survive. Inkling speaks English and many other languages.

Bandapats love squash, and Inking was drawn to the ice cream shop by the name, The Big Round Pumpkin. Hank explains that the pumpkin is a symbol for the earth and that his parents don’t have an actual large pumpkin for Inkling to eat. Inkling is sad, so Hank feeds him pizza instead.

Later, Inkling tells Hank that he must be kept a secret. For years humans have endangered bandapats by doing science experiments on them to discover the source of their invisibility. In the labs, the bandapats waste away and die of sadness. Hank also needs to keep Inkling a secret because his mom has a no pet policy.

On Hank’s first day of fourth grade, he is feeling nervous because Alexander won’t be there. He is relieved that Sacha Chin, who lives in his building, is in his class, and everything goes well until gym class. Hank doesn’t pay attention during the soccer game and scores a goal for the opposing team, angering his teammate, a large boy named Gillicut.

The next day at lunch, Gillicut demands to see Hank’s lunch and takes what he wants out of it. Hank is upset and fights back tears. Gillicut demands that Hank bring him rainbow sprinkles every day. Gillicut grabs Hank by the shirt, chokes him and then takes his lunch tray and dumps the trash on Hank. Gillicut tells Hank that if he doesn’t throw out his trash, he will rip Hank’s ears off and feed them to the science lab hamsters.

Hank tells Inkling that he is being bullied, and the bandapat offers solutions such as biting Gillicut on the ankle or fluffing up Hank’s hair to make the boy seem bigger and more intimidating — solutions that either don’t work or that Hank can’t use. After enduring Gillicut’s bulling for another week, Hank finally tells the lunch aides, but they tell Hank that he shouldn’t tattle and that he and Gillicut should work out their own problems.

Gillicut responds to Hank seeking help by pinching him and kicking him under the table. Hank tells his dad about the bullying, but his father advises him to find a peaceable solution. Hank tells the teachers, who speak with Gillicut’s father about the situation. Hank’s teacher, Ms. Cherry, tells Hank that Gillicut now lives with his father since his parents separated. Gillicut promises the adults he will stop bullying Hank, but he continues to be a bully daily.

One afternoon as Hank and Sasha are playing in the park, Gillicut comes over and kicks Hank. Hank gets extremely angry and tells Gillicut that his mother moved out because she didn’t want him. Gillicut is furious and promises to make Hank pay for what he said.

Inkling comes up with a new plan to stop Gillicut from bullying Hank. The bandapat says it is the last thing he will do for Hank before he leaves in search of a pumpkin farm in upstate New York. Hank is upset that he will lose another friend. Against Inkling’s wishes, Hank wants to know what Inking looks like before the bandapat leaves.

Hank grabs Inking and forces him to a mirror and sees Inkling’s reflection. Inkling has orange fur, large black eyes, white ears and stripy rings down his tale. Inkling is upset that Hank saw him, and Hank is sad that he didn’t respect his friend’s wishes to stay invisible. The next morning, Inkling is gone, and Hank fears he is gone for good.

Later in the lunchroom, Gillicut is angrier than usual and takes most of Hank’s lunch. Before he can do more, Ms. Cherry joins them at their lunch table. To Hank’s surprise, Inkling is there in the lunchroom to carry out the plan to stop Gillicut. Inkling drops down on both Ms. Cherry and Gillicut. Gillicut fights back and attacks Hank. Inkling bites Gillicut’s ankle, but Hank gets blamed and suspended from school for the rest of the day.

The next school day, Gillicut avoids Hank, and Hank realizes that because of the bite, Gillicut is afraid of him. Inkling joins him at lunch and tells Hank that he has decided to stay. Hank is happy and looks forward to whatever will happen next.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The natural food store is named the Health Goddess. A talking, invisible creature named Inkling visits Hank.

Authority Roles

Hank’s parents are loving but consider themselves pacifists. After the fight in the lunchroom, they are angry and disappointed with Hank. When Hank speaks to the adults in his life — his parents, his teacher and the lunch aides — about the bullying, they all tell him to find his own solution to the problem, or they offer solutions that don’t work. Hank’s teacher even suggests that Hank may be the bully.


Name-calling includes bully, jerk, dirtbag and caveperson. Gillicut grabs Hank by the collar of his shirt, choking him. Gillicut also pinches and kicks Hank. When they fight, Inkling bites Gillicut’s ankle, causing the bigger boy to fall.

Inking steals a squash and runs with it in a grocery store. Since he is invisible, people think there is a rat running with the squash and attack Inkling with a broom. He sustains cuts and bruises. Hank falls from a chair and hits his head on the tile.


None, but Nadia often texts her boyfriend, Max.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Hank lies to his mother on several occasions.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

6 to 10


Emily Jenkins






Record Label



Balzer + Bray, a division of Harper Collins Publishers


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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