Where, Oh, Where? Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter
DESMOND LIKED TO DISAPPEAR.
AT SCHOOL DESMOND HID DURING LIBRARY HOUR, AT LUNCHTIME, AND AT RECESS.
Camo-clad Desmond appears on the title page of Anna Alter's Disappearing Desmond (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) disappearing into the foliage behind him, and as the story points out, his whole family has a way of blending into the wallpaper as well.
At school Desmond is both there and not there. In library, he peers through the bookshelves at everyone and on the playground he quickly climbs into the refuge of the tree house tower. He shows up on an aquarium field trip in wet suit and snorkel inside the tank with the fishes and sea turtle. He even dons an Elizabethan mustache and hides in plain sight in front of the Shakespeare poster, making himself undetectable to the teacher's casual glance. Something must be done!
And then GLORIA happens. The class gets a new girl who loves to be the center of attention. She wears bright colors and likes to put herself center stage in every activity. And wonder of wonders, Gloria seems to have a thing for noticing the retiring Desmond no matter how well concealed he thinks he is. Then, one day during free-reading time, she turns the sunshine of her attention right on him.
"HI, DESMOND," SHE SAID. "YOU ARE READING MY FAVORITE BOOK. MAY I JOIN YOU?"
And in that magical way that a popular friend can transform the class shrinking violet into a star, Desmond disappears no more. He even shows up at school wearing a loud plain sweater and everyone sees him for the first time. Desmond wonders why he ever shrank from view and sets out to bring all the other "disappearing" kids into the game as well.
With intriguing patterned backgrounds among which our hero and his shy cohorts find refuge, Alter's nicely illustrated Disappearing Desmond provides a bit of visual fun spotting the elusive Desmond and his bashful mates, while providing an easy-going bit of bibliotherapy for the group gifted with the undiscovered riches of the shy classmate. As School Library Journal remarks, "a reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others."