When the opportunity came up to read Where are You Leopold: The Invisibility Game — a collection of short children’s comics by writer Michel Yves-Schmitt and artist Vincent Caut — I eagerly volunteered. As a comic book fan that started reading the medium at a very young age, and as someone who has taken on part-time work as a childcarer, I am a huge advocate for comics aimed at younger readers. I believe comics are a great way of teaching children to read, as the use of text and sequential art can make reading fun and accessible to children.
Where are You Leopold: The Invisibility Game tells the story of a young boy named Leopold, who discovers his ability to — yes, you guessed it — become invisible. The graphic novel follows how Leo and his sister, Celine, use his powers of invisibility to get up to mischief, and avoid being caught by fellow school student, Alice. Each comic is reasonably short and simple, as should be expected in a book aimed at younger readers. Caut’s art is incredibly fun and colorful, managing to take on a nostalgic quality that resembles classic children’s picture books, whilst also adding the dynamism needed to make comics flow. Yves-Schmitt cleverly uses the text to tell an entertaining story that is simultaneously accessible for children learning to read. The additional puzzles and games at the very end are a fabulous idea, and a great way to keep children occupied in their free time.
A notable feature of this book is how it caters to both children and adults alike. I found myself chuckling a lot at the jokes told in Leopold: The Invisibility Game. The humor centred around Leo’s family dynamic is perhaps the book’s strongest element, and anyone who grew up or are growing up in any sort of family environment can relate to it. I say this as an adult who, like many 20-somethings, has had to move back to my family home under the pandemic. The petty relationship I have with my sister mirrors that between Leo and Celine more than I care to admit. I also appreciated the pop culture references that are peppered through the series, made consistently by Caut’s background art. The Simpsons, X-Men and Pokémon all get a nod in the pages of this graphic novel. Keep a look out for them!
Whilst the more adult references are a great strength of Leopold: The Invisibility Game, they also slightly hinder the book. Without spoiling anything, one joke made in a panel is based on an adult theme and is by no means subtle about it. In this case, I would personally find it uncomfortable to explain said panel to, let’s say, a 6 year-old, and I am by no means prudish with these things. It seems a shame that an otherwise accessible book should be held back on one slightly misjudged gag, but I can imagine some carers and teachers would find themselves reluctant to give a child this series on this basis, nonetheless. At times, I also found some jokes to be slightly mean-spirited. Most of the time this was no problem at all — kids are kids and cheeky antics are what make classic comics such as The Beano work. However, Leo and Celine poking fun at a classmate’s looks and a joke being made out of Leo being in pink felt somewhat dated. Most of the time the humor lands well, but in these cases, it just missed the mark.
Ultimately, Leopold: The Invisibility Game is a graphic novel that tells a fun series of stories in a way that is entertaining to children and adults alike. The relationship between main characters, Leo and Celine, is incredibly endearing and is a great source of humor throughout the book. Caut’s art perfectly bridges the gap between the classic children’s story book and the comic genre. It is a shame that there are a few out-of-place jokes, however this should not discount the book in its entirety. I would certainly recommend this for carers looking to get their children into comics or even just reading in general.
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