Imaginary Fred (Eoin Colfer & Oliver Jeffers)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer & Oliver Jeffers, a quirky reflection on friendship.

When a lonely child wishes very hard, and the conditions are just right, Imaginary Fred arrives to be their imaginary friend. It can often be fulfilling (playing pretend, having discussions, sharing secrets) and sometimes not (when his “friends” are rude or bossy or cruel). Yet Fred is faithful in his position, being the best friend he can be – that is, until his friend makes a “real world” friend. Then Fred fades away, and is whisked back up into the clouds to wait for the next child. Fred makes his own wish: for a friend who is forever, someone who likes the things HE likes to do, and who appreciates his him. Soon he meets Sam; like Fred, Sam is quiet, thoughtful, artistic and creative. The pair spend all their time together, discussing music and writing plays. But as happy as Fred is, he fears the day will come when Sam will let him fade like all the others. And when Sam comes home excited about his new friend Sammi, Fred feels certain his time is up. But the best friendships are full of surprises, and Sam is not the type to let his friend fade away…

Very interesting. On the surface, there’s a wonderfully strange little story about imaginary friends, filled with delightful and unexpected moments of laugh-out-loud humor. But what I really loved were the unique themes surrounding friendship: how it can grow and change, how it may not always make sense to others, and how our best friends may even lead us to better ones. At the end of the book, Sam’s friend Sammi introduces Fred to Frieda, HER imaginary friend. And as close as Sam and Fred are, Fred comes to find that it’s FRIEDA who he was waiting for (the two are implied to be soulmates, platonic or otherwise). It’s a fascinating twist, and familiar to anyone who has watched their other friendships change after finding their “person”. Jeffers’ illustrations are perfect for the tone, full of quiet emotion and whimsical humor, and JJ loved them. The length may be better for slightly older bookworms, but this was such a strange, touching, lovely little read. Baby Bookworm approved!

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