Harrold, A.F. The Imaginary
October 23rd 2014 by Bloomsbury Children's
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Amanda has an imaginary friend, Rudger, with whom she spends lots of time. Her mother is understanding, even if some of her friends aren't, and the two have many good times. There is a creepy fellow named Mr. Bunting who seems to be hanging around entirely too much, and it turns out that he eats imaginary friends! When Amanda is hit by a car, Rudger is in danger of fading, but is found by a cat, Zinzan, and taken to a lovely library where imaginary friends can hang out between jobs and find listings for new ones. He makes a friend of Emily, who helps him try to find a new real person to befriend, and also meets a dog, Fridge, who was the imaginary friend of Amanda's mother. Rudger really wants to find Amanda, though, and after a tragedy strikes, he makes it to the hospital where the two are eventually reunited.
Strengths: Very beautiful illustrations from Emily Gravett, and an interesting premise.
Weaknesses: Very sad. At first, we think Amanda has been killed. This is too violent and disturbing for 2nd through 5th graders, yet too young for 6th through 8th graders. At least American ones. Very odd.
What I really think: This depressed the hell out of me on so many levels. It takes a certain kind of skill to make a book that is BOTH twee AND depressing. I worry about the English. I really, seriously do.