Real to Me

Knopf. May 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593377499.
K-Gr 3–This story of a special friendship between a monster and a young girl gently introduces the sometimes-sad reality of changing relationships. Despite others telling the narrator that he is simply imagining the friend, the pair does everything together, with the narrator repeating the line “She was real to me.” One morning, the narrator discovers the other is missing. Despite searching everywhere, the dear friend is nowhere to be found. The narrator is devastated at the loss and misses the comfort of his old friend. With time, though, our hero makes new friends, and finds himself doing the same things with the new crew as he did with his old friend. He misses his first friend but finds solace in imagining all of the wonderful things she may be doing and drifts to sleep beside his monster pals. The magical illustrations complement the themes of imagination and childlike wonder well. The story begins a bit predictably; the pace is reignited when it is revealed that the narrator is actually the monster.
VERDICT To adult readers, this sweet story gently conveys the inevitable pains of changing relationships, but this theme may be lost on young children; share with older elementary children instead.

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