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.