The Impossible Boy by Ben Brooks

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The Impossible Boy by Ben Brooks

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Funny, imaginative adventure in which an imaginary friend becomes real. Lots of slapstick. lots of adventure and lots of positive messaging about joy and imagination.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2019
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786540997

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Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing where they usually sat. Slowly, the front door opened. Smoke billowed out. And out stepped a boy, dressed in a long coat with an even longer scarf, wound around his neck.

"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."

And indeed they do. Ever since the summer, when their friend Sarah's mother had moved her away, Oleg and Emma have been unable to find a new friend to take her place. Instead, they made one up. Sebastian has been their imaginary friend for some time now but it had never occurred to Oleg and Emma that he could become real. But now, in the week before Christmas, here he is. But he shouldn't be, what with being imaginary and all, and the keepers of the order are soon after Sebastian.

Can Oleg and Emma keep their friend? Can their imaginations find a way? And will Sebastian's capacious bag (think Mary Poppins) continue to deliver hot ice cream?

I thought The Impossible Boy is was a lovely story and a wonderful rollercoaster of a read. The main message is that the seemingly impossible is often within reach, especially if you use your imagination and always in stories. Oleg and Emma both go on recognisable journeys - each has to face their own personal challenges and overcome their own personal difficulties. There are also nods to non-fantastical difficulties - conflicts at home, struggling for money - but these are made with a light touch and never detract from the narrative, which proceeds with great gusto. There's plenty of zany humour and outrageous situations and some surreal lines which are laugh-out-loud funny. The star of the show is, of course, Sebastian, the boy who stepped out of a cardboard spaceship. He is imagination personified and, when is pursued by those who want to destroy him, you'll root for him with all you've got. Never crush imagination. It's the worst crime, well, imaginable.

It's a flight of fancy. It's an adventure. It has a gazillion jokes and plenty to talk about in a classroom setting. Oh, and it all happens just before Christmas. So perfect for a stocking. You know what to do! Buy it and put it in a stocking for a confident reader you know (but you can read it first. Nobody would blame you).

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech also features a magical adventure and a boy who isn't real: this one fell out of a tree. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur is for older teens but movingly features letters sent to an imaginary friend once share by siblings.

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