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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Imaginary Fred, written by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Harper, 2015. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"Fred was glad that his friends found other real friends to play with, but sometimes he wished he had a friend who would need him forever. He dreamed of a friend who liked reading, music, and drama like he did. He imagined them sitting together, reading adventure stories and looking for shapes in the clouds. This was Fred's dream."

Had I had an imaginary friend, I would wish him to be just like Fred. He is experienced and knows just what is expected of him. He keeps lonely kids company when they have no one, then disappears when they find a friend and Fred is no longer needed. But, what about Fred? Is it always easy to say goodbye to the friends who no longer need him? Doesn't Fred deserve a forever friend who shares his likes, his wishes and dreams?

It turns out that he does, once he meets Sam. Sam is the yin to Fred's yang. They like the same things, have incredible fun spending time together and cannot imagine days without the other alongside. Then Sam meets Sammi, a girl who shares his love of comics and drawing. Sam assures Fred that he will always need him; Fred is not convinced. Fred begins to notice his invisibility returning and knows their time together is limited. In a surprise turn, Fred learns that Sammi has her own imaginary friend whose name is Freida. The four make an inseparable, if argumentative, quartet over a long period of time. Be prepared for yet another twist as the story ends.

This book is a delight, made better with Oliver Jeffers' black-ink artwork which adds humor and even more heart to a beautifully told story of friendship and longing. Fred and Frieda are created in color and dots to assure their existence beyond the 'real' world. Humorous asides are sure to elicit a chuckle or two. Carefully drawn details grab the reader's attention and encourage response.

I' sure you will enjoy hearing Eoin and Oliver discussing their collaboration.

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