Monday, March 23, 2015

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold is a lovely story of friendship, adventure, loss, and imagination.

Rudger is Amanda's best friend. Of course, he's imaginary, but neither Amanda nor Rudger is bothered by this. Then, one day, Mr. Bunting comes to the door. Unlike any other adult in the world, Mr. Bunting can see Rudger -- but this is definitely not a good thing. It's obvious from their first meeting that there's something wrong with Mr. Bunting, something ominous about him. When a later run-in with the man causes an accident that separates Rudger and Amanda, Rudger must run for his life to escape Mr. Bunting and get back to Amanda . . . but can an imaginary boy survive on his own, without his real-world friend?

This book works so well on so many levels. The characters are quirky and fun, the plot moves right along, there are some scary bits and some funny bits -- kids will love this book. There's also pathos and attention to detail (the cat's name is Oven, and I won't tell you why that is significant, but it is) and depth -- adults will love this book. I can see it working really well as a classroom read-aloud for second or third graders, though it might be a little too scary for children any younger than that. Also, it is fabulously illustrated by the talented Emily Gravett. This may be the best book I've read so far this year. Highly recommended.

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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