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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know The Imaginary is a fantasy about a little girl, Amanda, and her imaginary friend, Rudger, that has some age-appropriate scariness: Amanda is hit by a car. Mr. Bunting eats imaginary beings to live another year of his life. And there's a scary image of his rows and rows of teeth as he tries to eat Rudger. With his creepy imaginary sidekick at his side, he breaks into Amanda's hospital room as he continues to stalk the imaginary boy. There are great messages here about the value of strong imagination -- as well as loyalty. Amanda can be insensitive and self-centered, but Rudger knows her powerful spirit and imagination make the world a lot more fun for him. This book may remind parents who read it aloud to their tweens about the importance of allowing unstructured time for their kids to create their own worlds.
What's the story?
Amanda is a creative, strong-willed -- and sometimes selfish -- little girl who has great adventures with her imaginary friend Rudger. But when she's hit by a car, he risks being forgotten and "Fading" into oblivion. Luckily, Rudger finds a safe library to hide out with other imaginary kids and other beings, including a hot pink tyrannosaur. They urge him to choose a less imaginative child to be his new Friend, but Rudger only wants to find Amanda. It will be risky to get to her at the hospital when creepy Mr. Bunting is after him; Mr. Bunting is a legendary villain who "eats imaginaries ... And for each one he eats, he lives another year longer."
Is it any good?
THE IMAGINARY could be a great bedtime read-aloud book for parents to share with their tweens, who will enjoy the odd story that has just the right amount of darkness for their age. Mr. Bunting, for example, is scary but also weird with his bald head and loud Hawaiian-print shirts. Gravett's beautiful and eclectic art -- black-and-white drawings with occasional bright spot of color -- ranges from eerie to playful, mirroring the many moods of children's dreams and fantasies.
One other thing that's really great about The Imaginary is that Amanda can be really hard to be around: She eats Rudger's cookies, blames him for breaking her piggy bank, and can be insensitive to his feelings. Even so, she's special and fun, and Rudger remains loyal to her -- and she to him, when he needs her most. This is truly a one-of-a-kind adventure that will captivate kids -- and remind parents of the importance of free time for imaginative play.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about imagination. Have you had an imaginary friend? Parents might want to share the stories of what they liked to imagine as children.
Why do we lose our ability to imagine and play as we get older?
What did Rudger like about Amanda? Is she a good friend to him?
- Author: A.F. Harrold
- Illustrator: Emily Gravett
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
- Publication date: April 6, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.