Overall, Fred likes his job but there's one small thing he doesn't like. When his kids end up finding real life friends, Fred's role as an imaginary friend is over--and he gradually fades away. He knows it comes with the territory, but it still kind of hurts.
One day, a lonely boy named Sam calls on Fred. Sam is quite different. He's cool and lots of fun, yes but he's also more inclusive, and when he meets a real life friend named Sammi, the most astonishing thing happens. Sam admits he has a real life friend, but he also tells Fred he's not going anywhere. There will be no fading!
This is a lyrical story about friendship that takes on a whole new perspective, and altered perspective is such a valuable concept for kids to learn. The narrative is imaginative but grounded, and enormously likable in the way Colfer relates to kids through text. His characters are warm, creative and 'real' in a way that's utterly endearing.
It goes without saying that Jeffers' illustrations are yet again superbly reminiscent of picture books of the past, with a contemporary quirk and line flow that makes the heart thump a little harder. His free-form use of line and colour and half-tone pixelation, works so perfectly for this story.
Imaginary Fred is quite high on text, with a gorgeously narrative feel that includes philosophical meanderings along with the actual plot, reminding me again of the picture books of yore. Due to this, I'd recommended it for slightly older children. And adults.
Title: Imaginary Fred
Author: Eoin Colfer
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Publisher: HarperCollins, $27.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 October 2015
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
For ages: 4 - 9
Type: Picture Book