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!

Brave Enough For Two (Jonathan D. Voss)

Help, friends! Our book today is Brave Enough For Two by Jonathan D. Voss, a tale of friendship between a girl and her stuffed owl.

Olive and Hoot have been best of friends forever, even if their interests occasionally differ. For instance, Olive prefers the adventures found in books, while Hoot yearns for something more. One day, Hoot encourages her to join him on an adventure and, while she has some safety concerns, Olive agrees. First they fly high in the air in a balloon-powered basket, then a boat trip down a fast-moving current, both making Olive nervous. Each time, Hoot guarantees their safety and promises that, as long as they are together, they will be okay. But as the day winds to an end, the pair realize they are lost and far from home, and Hoot has torn a hole and lost some stuffing. Suddenly, Hoot doesn’t feel so brave. Seeing her friend’s fear, Olive realizes that courage isn’t just being fearless…

This is a soft and gentle friendship story with a nice lesson in courage. While I feel like Hoot could have been more considerate of Olive’s fears and concerns, I did like the lesson that bravery and recklessness are not the same thing – Hoot is quite bold, and good to encourage his friend to be brave as well, but he is also quite foolhardy. Olive, however, finds her bravery when others need her, showing a level head and a comforting presence when crisis strikes. It’s a subtle way of showing little ones the different types of bravery, and I liked it. The art is simply gorgeous, weaving charming windswept characters into open-skied rural landscapes that evoke a nostalgic sense of childhood wanderings. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed Olive and her little owl friend. A quiet tale of courage and friendship, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Adventures Of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Dan Santat)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Adventures Of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, another gorgeously illustrated and wonderfully woven fantasy by Dan Santat.

He was born in the magical land far away where all imaginary creatures are, and where they wait to be chosen by their child and given their name. But though he waits and waits, he is never called. So he does the unimaginable: he sets out to the real world to find his new friend himself. Who will they be? What will they name him? Finding a friend can prove to be hard, but when he does, he finds that sometimes the best friends are the ones that find us.

Once again, Santat weaves a world rich with detail and magic with his story and illustrations. Beekle, as he comes to be named, is adorable and instantly endearing, and will win over readers of all ages. The illustrations are colorful and bursting with life, and the length is fine for baby bookworms. JJ and I both really enjoyed this book! Baby Bookworm approved!