Review: Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)

If you are lonely, you can’t just wish a friend to life. Or can you? Perhaps with a zing of electricity, some luck or even magic, you can! And it will be an imaginary friend like Fred. Fred worked hard to be the best imaginary friend a kid could have. But each time it ended the same way. The child made a real friend and Fred faded away. When Fred arrived in Sam’s life, Fred had never been happier. The two of them loved the same things like reading, figuring out how the toilet worked and listening to music. But then Sam made a new friend. Fred sat Sam down and explained that in a few days, Fred would disappear and move on and that it was not Sam’s fault. But Sam would not accept that and after making a scene showed Fred a solution that he’d never even considered possible.

Colfer’s text is pure bliss to read. While the book is wordier than many picture books, it maintains a balance that works very well. The text streams along, telling the story in a way that is robust and satisfying. It doesn’t slow the book, instead offering more detail and understanding of Fred and Sam, their dynamic together and how special it is.

As always, Jeffers’ art is very special. Fred is blue and made up of dots while the “real world” is drawn in lines. That makes Fred more colorful than the other characters and it also allows him to really fade away. The result is a shimmering combination of delicacy and graphic strength.

A winning collaboration between two masters, this book embraces imaginary friends for life. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Tory Cummings

Released October 27, 2015

A new take on Little Red Riding Hood, this picture book fills the storybook forest with snow and takes readers on a twirling ride through several fairy tales. Little Red Gliding Hood loves to ice skate down the winding river to her grandmother’s house. She does it so often that her skates are wearing out. Then she discovers that the prize for the upcoming pairs skating competition is a new pair of skates. Now she just has to find the perfect partner. But many of the good skaters have already been taken. She asks her grandmother for ideas and her grandmother suggests her new neighbors who live in a brick house. When Little Red approaches the house, the Wolf shows up and chases her on the ice where they discover that they are both great skaters!

Lazar twists and turns the traditional Little Red Riding Hood tale into a wintry wonder. She pays clear homage to the original, also making many nods to other fairy tales along the way like the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Three Bears, and Humpty Dumpty. The entire book has a freshness to it, that makes for a lively read that is perfect both for children new to the story and for those familiar with the original.

The art by Cummings is filled with brisk winter colors of blues and whites. It is made cozy when Little Red visits her grandmother where they sit by the fire and the colors turn to oranges and reds. The art is playful and funny with lots of small touches, particularly when there are characters from lots of fairy tales in one place.

A terrific new take on a traditional tale, this picture book is a great pick for winter story times. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House.