HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy
Authors: Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin
Illustrator: Paul Sagsoorian
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1974
ISBN-13: 978-0070705463 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0070705461 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0671560928 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0671560921 Paperback
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Williams, Jay, and Abrashkin, Raymond. Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy (Published in 1974 by McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York City, NY). Young Danny Dunn lives with his mother in the home of inventor and retired Midston University professor Euclid Bullfinch, for whom Mrs. Dunn works as a housekeeper. Danny’s father had died long before, and Danny’s best friends are Irene Miller and Joe Pearson. When he accidentally short-circuits Professor Bullfinch’s new crystalline material, Danny enables the professor to create a new machine that makes people seem invisible. Can Danny and his friends actually become invisible? How does Danny plan to use the device? And what will he and Professor Bullfinch do when the government finds out and tries to commandeer it?
There are a few common euphemisms (e.g., gosh, drat, gee) and some references to smoking a pipe and cigarettes. What makes the story so interesting, and a bit scary, is the way in which the military wants to use the professor’s technology for its own purposes, especially in today’s world, where not only governmental agencies and multi-national corporations spy on everyone, but ordinary citizens spy on each other. Anyone who has ever had to deal with a mindless government bureaucrat will appreciate the depiction of General Gruntle. One really has to admire Professor Bullfinch for his character and “civil disobedience” at the end while still being strongly patriotic in his own way.
The story is also quite scathing about the perversion of science toward power and control, rather than being for the benefit of all. Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy was book #13 in the original series, but one source calls it Vol. 2 of the paperback reprints. These books are a bit dated, as the science and technology go, but they are practically prophetic about things like personal computers, cell phones, the internet, digital cameras, etc., and are still very entertaining and educational for children between the ages of ten and fourteen, especially boys. They help kids appreciate the value of science. I have previously reviewed two other books in the series, Danny Dunn and the Smallifying Machine (1969) and Danny Dunn and the Universal Glue (1977), and have one more to read in the future, Danny Dunn and the Fossil Cave (1961).