The Invisibless and the Castle of Doom Rock
Plot: Douglas accepts his father’s proposal to finish his high school education at Doom Rock Preparatory School, a massive edifice so foreboding that the locals call it “the castle”. Douglas has to submit to its iron-rod discipline and also face a tradition of bullying that is tacitly approved by the Headmaster of the school, while at the same time experiencing ominous night-time visits by a cat that can apparently pass through solid walls, visions of a figure with no face warning Douglas of imminent danger and the apparition of a young ghost. Thanks to her own telepathic powers, his friend Crystal”hears” Douglas’ call for help, and she and Peter come to Doom Rock and discover that the preparatory school has buried a terrible past secret which has to be revealed before it is too late. Douglas’ only hope now lies in Crystal’s powers and Peter’s extraordinary deductive abilities which will help them find powerful allies in the school’s young and inexperienced psychologist and in a teacher who was once a bully himself.
This book was awarded the 2004 “Bancarellino” prize and the 2005 Giovanni Arpino Award for children’s narratives.
Bullying at school is a rapidly growing phenomenon in Italy, and for that reason, I felt it necessary to confront it in a book of “The Invisibles” series. I tried to understand the mechanism at the bottom of this phenomenon and what tools schools might have at hand to control it. I used my own personal experience as a starting point, since I was bullied in my first year of middle school, but as I normally do, I took my experience and emotions to an extreme by using an illustrative metaphor. At Doom Rock Preparatory School, not only did the teachers not try to stop bullying, but were themselves convinced that it was a healthy form of competition between students. There was no place there for fantasy or emotional intelligence, indeed just the opposite. Competition, aggression and supression are used as teaching aids with the idea of forging perfectly efficient and functional students for today’s society. I was interested in examining what a couple of youngsters, together with a young and inexperienced psychologist and a former bully, might do to change things from within. ...