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The Mostly Invisible Boy

(Casey Grimes #1)

4.69  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Eleven-year-old Casey Grimes is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published April 25th 2020 by INtense Publications
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A.J. Vanderhorst Here's the easy answer. One day, a few of my kids cornered me and said, "Hey Dad, know what would be really cool?" Always eager for insight into this …moreHere's the easy answer. One day, a few of my kids cornered me and said, "Hey Dad, know what would be really cool?" Always eager for insight into this question, I replied, "What?!"

They went on to explain their vision for an interconnected web of tree fortresses, "a secret tree castle in every backyard," that would transform our neighborhood into a village of outdoor parties and sleepovers. "And Dad, you could go from place to place without ever touching the ground."

Of course, I'd already known this was be cool. Deep in our hearts, many of us have always known. But hearing my kiddos pitch the idea out loud made it obvious this was something that needed to exist, if only in a book (for now). (less)

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Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Holy Creeps!

'The Mostly Invisible Boy' was a pleasure to read. I received a copy in exchange for a honest review, so here we go!

In short: Casey Grimes is invisible. No one ever notices him, save the trees he climbs for solace. There he can feel at peace with the birds and nature. So when he finds a bizarrely huge Oak, he must climb it. When his parents get tickets to Jamaica and Casey and his sister Gloria are not invited (LOL) and their mysterious babysitter, Ms. Jones, is oddly approving of Ca
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Mostly Invisible Boy is a complete blast. While it is written primarily for a middle grade audience, the beauty of this story is that it is so engaging that any reader can enjoy it regardless of age. I am 35 and was on the edge of my seat for the story of Casey Grimes. An awkward 11 year old who quite literally nobody notices, Casey is thrust into an adventure beyond his imagination when he discovers an unusual tree fortress in the forest near his family's home. Little does he know that this ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This amazing story of friendship, loyalty, and courage is something to marvel at. AJ Vanderhorst is a great author! This book displays Casey's emotions as well as a feeling of being ignored. His love of climbing is also shown when he finds a giant and also magical oak tree. He later discovers a magical land and makes a new friend. Casey and his sister Gloria are surprised to find that the people in the most magical land they have ever been in absolutely hate magic! The sister-brother pair set ou ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not one of those guys who is crazy about fantasy. But this book made me think twice. For one, I am crazy about trees. I don't study them; I climb them and I love them. This book really hit the spot with tree ways, tree houses (that people actually live in), and tree schools. I also like that kids can have weapons (not guns, but swords, maces, etc.). If all books were like this, the whole world would be going crazy about books. I like the humor between Casey and his sister Gloria, and this w ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Having spent my summers in the willow tree next door, this book resonated so well with me! I loved reading it myself and was eager to share it with my kids. This book is action-packed and filled with vivid descriptions, making it seem as though the world of Casey Grimes really is just a Sentry Oak away.
Highly recommend this book as a read-aloud for families as well as a great novel for middle-grade readers to devour on their own. It has fantastic sibling relationships, supportive parents, and t
Amy Cato
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! Engaging, humorous, and original, this book with its endearing characters is full of intriguing adventure and yet still feels riveted in reality of Casey's personal struggles with identity and how relationships work. I love that! I also loved the quality and fresh feel of the writing. Warning : you'll wish you could jump into the book for some of this tree fun before it's over. ...more
Aidan James II
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enchanting. Woods meet Magic in this impossible-to-put-down adventure. This has already been put in my top 25 all-time reads. In my eyes, this book could quite easily be compared with the greats. (Harry Potter, etc) But you can’t really say it’s much like Harry Potter. When Harry is practicing surprisingly-early romance, Casey is practicing true and whole friendship.
AJ Vanderhorst takes a lot of relatable struggles and relationships, and combined with enchanting writing, the help of mighty trees
A.J. Vanderhorst
Apr 18, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
No stars from me for obvious reasons. :)

This is a book I've lived with for a long time...years now. I hope I can say this about every book I write, but: this one is close to my heart. If this book was a person, I'd describe it as feisty, whimsical, heart-on-the-sleeve and a little crazy.

My editors, beta-readers and kids have described it as "inventive, believably adventurous, full of heart, rollicking, vivid, a book you want to live in, witty, funny and scary."

Even though April 2020 wasn't a wo
Although this was a book written for middle school students, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit as the story took me into a magical domain adjacent to our own mundane world. Casey is a boy who is very much invisible to everyone except his immediate family, from the bus driver to the teachers to the kids in his own school. They don't bully him, they don't ignore him, they just don't see him. His parents end up winning a much-needed vacation and the nanny comes to town. Clearly she is more t ...more
Cody Waterman
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Equally adventurous as it is meaningful. Reading Casey Grimes to my kids (10,8,7) lead to out-loud laughter, moments where they jumped about as if they were right there with Casey, as well as quiet moments of concern and thought. I have no doubt my kids have spent more time in the real woods behind our house as we have read about the woods behind Casey's!

While the magical world Vanderhorst creates is bound to draw any kid in with imaginative and fanciful elements, the book is also not merely si
Lynne Francis
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. AJ Vanderhorst’s writing style creates vivid imagery of his characters, the woods, their adventures. He provides heavy doses of humor, heart, and clever twists and turns that will reenforce the joys of reading for the Middle Grade Fantasy audience.

As the story begins, we see Casey Grimes lying in bed punching his pillow — tears flowing as he battles to overcome his devastating feelings of invisibility. Casey is drawing long uneven breaths as a TREE brushed his window — “twi
Laura  Miller
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this book from the author because we have mutual friends. I am so incredibly glad I did! I have read quite a few books so far this year (50+ at my last count!) and The Mostly Invisible Boy is one of the best I’ve read recently. I understand there is to be a sequel and I’m already excited about the next book. Casey Grimes’ story is a middle grade adventure/fantasy novel. The main character is dealing with questions of identity and the struggles of being a new kid, l ...more
Frank Morelli
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For someone who grew up as "the kid in the back of the class", I can truly say that AJ Vanderhorst has created a character in Casey Grimes who is so relatable, and so tangible to anyone who has ever felt invisible, that his presence alone in the story is enough to keep the pages turning. Add to that a delightful setting built around the magic of a unique tree fortress, terrifying monsters at every turn, and loads of adventure all flowing with Vanderhorst's dry wit, and you have yourself a must-r ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Inventive, gripping, great.

If you'd like to be transported back to what it feels like to be middle school, full of self-doubt and seemingly invisible, this is the book for you. Only, it's so much more than that. It's about finding a place you belong, but not knowing you'll be accepted.
It's about taking a bold step, unsure whether you'll succeed.
It's about how magic exists, and families don't always have to break up.

It's a fantasy, and it's got so many direct applications to real life.

And my bro
Tonja Drecker
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Packed with imagination and magical adventure, this is a book to cuddle up with under the blankets and get lost in an exciting world.

Casey is eleven-years-old, would love to have some friends, but has a very strange problem. He's almost always invisible. At home, he's completely visible. When his parents win a sudden trip, he takes off into the forest to climb a tree, and what an odd tree it is! But other strange things are popping up, too. The babysitter isn't all that she seems, monsters are s
Alicia Pollard
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book took many of my favorite childhood daydreams - adventurous tree-climbing, monster-slaying, mystery, and friendship - and breathed life into them. Casey Grimes and his sister Gloria make a hilarious and sweet brother-sister team, and the cast of characters they meet are compelling and believable. The world-building is fantastic: a secret world of monster-slayers, magical tree fortresses, and legends that I child-me would have yearned to enter.

While the book belongs to a huge and beloved
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a fabulous book for both children and adults. It was a great fantasy world for the children to experience and for the adults to remember their childhood again.

Casey was mostly invisible to everyone. He wasn't happy in his life. One day he entered a fantasy world with his sister unexpectedly. He built new friendships, killed monsters and found a whole new world.
The writings was fantastic, there werent any boring parts. The chapters were short and they made reading the book so much ea
Breanna Abbott
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for a read aloud for our kiddos (which they have been LOVING). Turns out, I didn't want to put it down myself and ended up binge reading it over the weekend.

There is a lot I could rave about.

In a world where I feel like the magic of childhood is under attack, I enjoyed getting immersed in this book. It brought the magic back to life both for me--and my kids. It served as an amazing reminder to the type of parent and grownup I want to be.

I am really hoping for more adventure
Alex Norton
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fast-paced, lighthearted middle-grade fantasy fiction. A neglected boy with a slight visibility deficiency discovers an entire magical reality in the woods behind his house complete with kid warriors, monsters, and old magic that needs to be uncovered...what's not to like? Written perfectly for the age group it's intended for, I'd recommend it unreservedly for ages 9-12.

As an aside, it's nice to see a story where an 11-year-old-boy and his little sister have a loving, functional relationship. A
Dotty Vanderhorst
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Underneath all the crazy action and behind the amazing setting of this story runs clear character development that is compelling. This author takes children, or young adults, very seriously; he shows the growth of improbable friendships through challenges met together and fragile trust moving into comradeship in such a believable way that one hates to leave Casey, Gloria and friends at the end.
But don't grieve--a sequel is promised!
Dawn Sanford
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great read. It's captivating from the start, no need to 'try' and get into it. It was difficult not to read it all in one sitting. It's av wonderful world and unlike anything I've read before. Looking forward to the next in ther series! ...more
C. Gonzales
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Wow what a wonderful MG Fantasy book! This is a cute story, fun to read, and not just for kids. I liked the more complicated premise and the plot. All the characters were interesting, even the bit players. Good for anyone that enjoys reading light fantasy.

Full of non-stop action, it captures you and keeps you turning pages from beginning to end.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great read, filled with magic, mythical creatures, and massive tree forts. This book paints a clear picture of the world AJ has created. When you read this book, you can hardly believe that you won’t find the occasional bog creep in your woods.
Amy Nelson
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the first books our family has read that all 7 of our kids clamor to start reading earlier each night so we can read more before bed! I have found stashes of treehouse drawings growing on sidetables. Read it aloud, read it alone, just make sure you read it!
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing and exciting book! I love the way he makes it in a style that is not all literary but still really cool and exciting! I think that this is a book that is a fantasy but still so believable! I especially love the way characters in this book are different and have different views on things. Hail Casey Grimes!

LitPick Book Reviews
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Casey Grimes didn’t expect things to be easy when moving to Vintage Woods. He knew it would be hard being the new kid, especially a new kid with a passion for climbing trees. But, things turned out differently than expected. Instead of being singled out, he is forgotten. Soon he realizes that people aren’t intentionally being rude, they just can’t see him. When his mom and dad go on a sudden vacation, he and his sister, Gloria, find themselves the charges of a somewhat eccentric babysitter. In a ...more
Rachelle Sperling
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A creative and romping adventure that is sure to delight.

I loved it. The Mostly Invisible Boy was just plain fun. I especially loved the interaction between brother and sister and the fact that though the parents weren’t highly involved in the story they were represented as good and loving. I’d highly recommend this armchair adventure.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review, but I will be keeping my eye out to purchase any sequels.
Iseult Murphy
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don’t pay attention to the title. This is a book about 11 year old Casey and his 6 year old sister, Gloria, finding a magic world hidden in the woods.

The characters are likeable, and my favourite is Gloria, because she can see things that others can’t and she’s very loving. Casey is a good character too, and I like how he develops over the course of the book.

The monsters are exciting and creepy, and I love the sentry trees that are full of closets and cool things. I wish I had found out more a
Jemima Pett
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a great story, a fantasy with many original features. It develops in a dark fight against nasty beasts set on destroying the world, or so it seems.

It starts out on the last day of the school term, with Casey railing against his problem. People can’t see him. Sometimes it seems they’re going to and then… no. This period of his story is important to explain several things about his attitude to life. Invisibility been going on a long time. So, once his parents are despatched into the middle
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-book
A forest-y adventure for Middle graders.

The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst (Book One of Casey Grimes series) features the story of Casey, an eleven-year-old, who is invisible to the world most of the time, in a literal sense. He is an adroit climber, and has always cherished fascination and love for the woods. While desperately seeking a way out of the agony in his mind one day, he discovers a humongous oak, and upon returning to the place, a series of events lead him to a hidden world
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AJ Vanderhorst has had many jobs, including journalist, paramedic, escape artist, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, he built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.

Now he and his wife live in a woodsy house with their proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes A

Other books in the series

Casey Grimes (2 books)
  • Trickery School (Casey Grimes #2)

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