Invisible Isabel by Sally J. Pla | Pictures by Tania De Regil

Happy Thursday! Sally J. Pla and Tania De Regil stopped by to finish my sentences. We discussed Invisible Isabel's cover, 210 Maple Lane, social and sensory pressures, and more. I wrote the words in purple, Tania wrote the words in black, and Sally wrote the words in green. Thank you, Sally and Tania! 

Invisible Isabel’s cover was a wonderful collaboration between Sally, our publisher, and myself. It shows Isabel blending in with her background, a sea of polka dots, and it’s almost as if she were…invisible! It shows a little bit of how she feels, both physically and mentally, she’s sort of hiding and a bit overwhelmed, but undoubtedly there’s a twinkle in her eyes, a true glimmer of hope. I love illustrating covers. Capturing the essence of a story in a single image is always a fun challenge.

Sally J. Pla’s manuscript for Invisible Isabel is so beautifully crafted. I think any girl or boy will be able to identify themselves with what Isabel is going through. Growing up can be hard! I had such a fun time reading this story and also learned a lot, which is always a very rewarding feeling. I loved Isabel’s evolution and I especially connected with how she approaches everything with kindness.

Isabel is a lovable girl who desperately wants to be “seen”. All she wants is for people to fully understand what is going on with her. While I was illustrating her, I was able to really understand all the complex emotions she was going through. All of her fears, hopes, and dreams. I think she and I would’ve been very good friends growing up.

Invisible Isabel tells the story . . .

of a small, quiet girl

who lived in a little white house at 210 Maple Lane.

There was a bald patch of lawn in front, and a big old pine tree you could climb,

although you’d get covered in sticky sap if you did.

Inside, besides her Mama and Papa,

there were five rowdy brothers and sisters

who shook the very walls of 210 Maple Lane

with havoc and hubbub and hullaballoo.

Isabel Beane

was NOT a fan

of havoc

or hubbub

or hullaballoo.

So begins the story of Isabel Beane, who has five rowdy siblings with special talents. Isabel fears she has no special talent. She feels a bit lost and invisible! At school, she feels invisible, too. Marvelous Monica rules the roost at school, and Marvelous Monica ignores and excludes her.

Isabel starts to have worries that flutter like moths in her belly. With every passing day, these “worry moths” get stronger and stronger. How can Isabel tame this growing compendium of worry moths that plague her? And how can she get people to SEE her for the kind, bright, sensitive girl that she is?

It is a tender little novel in verse for young middle-graders about anxiety, and shyness, and dealing with social and sensory pressures.

Tania De Regil’s illustrations are absolutely, utterly adorable! They make this little novel in verse come beautifully to life. And the cover! We gave Tania a difficult task: Create a very eye-catching cover of a subtly invisible girl. Not easy! Tania completely rose to the challenge. I deeply passionately love everything about this gorgeous cover – the soft colors. The polka-dots! The family’s little dog. The dreamy, longing look in Isabel’s eyes. It is just so appealing, I could look at it forever.

Writing is my best way to connect with others. In person, I sometimes fumble a bit, get distracted by background noise, miss the point. But when writing, I have focus and time. On paper, I can choose each word with love and care. I can write stories that ask: “This is how being human feels to me. Does it feel like that, for you?” And I can reassure my readers, “It’s perfectly okay if this is how you feel, and YOU are perfectly okay. You are perfect. And you are not alone.”

Look for Invisible Isabel on July 9, 2024. 


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