Imaginary Fred

illus. by Oliver Jeffers. 48p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062379559.
Gr 1–3—As an imaginary friend, Fred comes to Earth when lonely children wish for him, becoming whatever they need him to be, whether a companion to throw a ball with or someone willing to become the ball. When his friends outgrow him, finding real friends, Fred starts to disappear and his blue pixelated form vanishes until there is barely a scrap of him left, "just enough for the wind to catch and whisk him into the sky." Jeffers's clean, expressive black lines serve to contrast the corporeal world of Fred's friends and the world around them with Fred himself, who has substance but no outline. One day a boy named Sam wishes for Fred, and at last Fred finds someone who shares his interests and might just be a real friend. Eventually, though, Sam finds a real friend and, once again, Fred feels himself start to disappear—until, that is, he meets Sam's imaginary friend, Frieda. Together, Fred and Frieda form an imaginary friendship so real they never fade away. Tongue-in-cheek details in Jeffers's illustrations, such as a pig getting hit by lightning in order to summon Fred to Sam's side, juxtapose ironically with Colfer's simple text in a manner that will doubtless please child readers, especially those fond of the artist's other work.
VERDICT An effervescent bit of fun.

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