Reviews of Disappearing Desmond
"'How Not to Be Seen' is a famous Monty Python sketch, but it also describes the peculiar and poignant talent of shy children like Alter's (What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?) hero Desmond, an anthropomorphized cat. Desmond is so self-erasing that he can easily blend into a classroom poster: 'Sometimes, even his teacher could not find him.' Then one day, a vivacious and persistent rabbit named Gloria (think young Auntie Mame with long ears) arrives in class and pulls Desmond out of his shell. One good turn leads to another, and soon most of the class wallflowers are blooming--although the final image makes it clear there's still work to be done. Many of Desmond's camouflage efforts show a lot of ingenuity, which could convey to some readers that his inner life in rich enough to compensate for his lack of friends. But Alter's empathy is never in question, and with Gloria's arrival it becomes clear just how much yearning was in Desmond's heart--socially confident readers and shrinking violets alike will be won over."
– Publishers Weekly
"Whether he is talcum-powdered white to look like a statue in an art museum or dressed in green while sitting in a tree, Desmond, a shy cat, likes to blend in with his environment, much like David Lucas’ Halibut Jackson (2004). Used to being ignored, Desmond is surprised when new student Gloria, a gregarious rabbit who enjoys speaking up and standing out, notices him wherever he tries to hide. After Gloria finds Desmond in the library and they read together all morning long, the classmates become inseparable playmates. Brandishing a new attire and self-confidence to boot, Desmond can’t remember why he ever wanted to disappear and spots another camouflaged friend. The final double-page spread includes numerous hidden students for readers to find. With a nod to her own Abigail Spells (2009), Alter’s pleasing acrylic illustrations feature more of her adorable animals and geometric and patterned backdrops. A reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others."
– Angela Leeper, Booklist
"In a delightfully simple story about a quirky young boy who would really rather not be noticed, author-illustrator Anna Alter offers a reassuring look at shyness and the encouragement that friendship can provide. Desmond, like all of the members of his family, is a genius at disappearing into the landscape or background of his surroundings. However, when a new extraordinarily outgoing classmate, Gloria, arrives, she not only spots Desmond in all of his disguises but invites him to join her in all manner of activities, causing Desmond to lose much of his shyness. This warm, reassuring story is the perfect book to use with groups of children as they coalesce at the beginning of a school year or a library storytime. To add to the fun, there is a lively activity guide to accompany the book with activities for both the classroom and the public library (and easily adaptable to a bookstore setting)."
— Toni Buzzeo, MA, MLIS
"Desmond the cat blends in with his surroundings. In fact, his entire family fades into the background in their portrait. Everything changes when Gloria, a rabbit, arrives at school. Not only does she take every possible chance to get noticed herself, but she also notices Desmond no matter where he hides. To his surprise, he likes interacting with others. He even coaxes someone else from his hiding place to join the playground fun. Young viewers will enjoy spotting Desmond in his ingenious costumes and identifying others trying to stay out of sight in the schoolyard. Alter’s animal characters will be familiar to those who know her previous books, including Abigail Spells (Knopf, 2009), featured in a library poster. This low-key story of how friendship can support and encourage others will be a welcome addition for most libraries."
— Kathy Piehl, School Library Journal