The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett

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The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely - and slightly scary - story about imaginary friends. Well told and beautifully illustrated, this is one for fans of stories like Coraline. We loved it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408852462

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Longlisted for the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal

Longlisted for the 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

Rudger is Amanda's imaginary friend. She found him in her wardrobe one morning and they've been inseparable ever since. Amanda's mother is quite accepting of Rudger, Amanda's friends less so. Amanda took him to school with her once but the trip wasn't a huge success so now the pair hang out by themselves, taking voyages of adventure in Amanda's garden, in her bedroom and under the stairs in Amanda's house. It's while exploring a complex of dark and dingy caves under the stairs - what on earth could be in a cupboard under the stairs other than a complex of caves? - that the doorbell rings and Mr Bunting appears.

Mr Bunting can see Rudger. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Mr Bunting eats imaginaries. And now his sights are set on Rudger. Separated from Amanda, Rudger is soon running for his life. Who will help him? How will he avoid Fading into nothingness, forgotten by his friend? Or prevent Mr Bunting from feasting upon him?

Oh, LORDY. The Imaginary is a delightful story. And a delightful book. Look at the cover! Isn't it gorgeous? I couldn't walk past a gorgeous, dinky hardback like this in a book shop. So I was hooked even before I read the first page - and I wasn't disappointed when I turned the last. I never had an imaginary friend but I love stories about them. And this one has the perfect blend of whimsy and danger. It's lovely but not saccharine and it's scary but not afraid-to-go-to-bed terrifying. And it's all about that most precious of qualities, imagination. Never be afraid to indulge your imagination, even when it takes a slightly scary turn, that's what The Imaginary says to me.

There are some wonderful characters. Amanda, the Real Child, is wildly vital and charismatic. But she isn't without her faults - she's self-centred and oblivious to other people's feelings at times. I loved the way Amanda's mother stuck up for and supported her slightly eccentric child, too. Rudger is courageous and determined but not above the odd sulk. I think my favourite of all was Fridge, an old imaginary dog who smells DAMP. I'm sure I could smell him myself as I read.

Everything is made even better by Emily Gravett's fabulous illustrations: in colour for the pink dinosaur, in charcoal for the gloomy imaginary companion of Mr Bunting. There's a picture of Rudger trying not to Fade as he slumps against a tree that brought a tear to my eye. The imaginations of author and illustrator come together perfectly in this story and I'm sure the combination will incite the imaginations of readers, too. It certainly did mine.

Highly - HIGHLY - recommended. We also have a review of The Afterwards from our authors.

If you like the sound of The Imaginary, you might also enjoy Coraline or The Graveyard Book, both by the fabulous Neil Gaiman. Imaginary friends are also under threat in another Bookbag favourite Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan.

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Buy The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Imaginary by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett at


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