A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A good choice for parents to read to young tweens at bedtime. May inspire some good discussions about play and imagination -- and remind parents about the importance of leaving unstructured time for their kids to create their own worlds.
There are great messages here about the value of strong imagination and loyalty.
Positive Role Models
Amanda can be a difficult friend: Rudger is sometimes mad at Amanda, who can be insensitive and self-centered. But he knows her powerful spirit and imagination make the world a lot more fun for him. Their relationship will help kids better understand that friendship is not always easy, but that our loyal friends make the world a lot more colorful.
Violence & Scariness
Amanda's hit by a car. A creepy imaginary girl breaks into a house. Mr. Bunting eats imaginaries, including a couple characters from this book, to live another year of his life. There's a scary image of his rows and rows of teeth as he tries to eat Rudger. He breaks into Amanda's hospital room as he continues to stalk the imaginary boy. Rudger purposely causes a little girl to fall down a flight of stairs.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.