Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Imaginary by AF Harrold illustrated by Emily Gravett

One of my all time favourite books is about an imaginary friend.  It is called O'Diddy and is long out of print.  This book, The Imaginary, shares some concepts with O'Diddy but The Imaginary is for a much older audience and I have read two reviews which caution adults to read this book before putting it into the hands of a child.

Rudger is Amanda's imaginary friend but when Amanda is involved in a serious car accident Rudger must find a way to reconnect with his friend before he fades away.

"Some kids have big imaginations and they dream us up.  They make us and we're best chums and that's all good and proper, and then they get older and they lose interest and we get forgotten. That's when we start to Fade.  Normally that's the end, your job's done, you turn to smoke and blow away on the wind."

Several days before the accident, Amanda has had a visit from the mysterious Mr Bunting.  His appearance is decidedly odd :

"The man was dressed in Bermuda shorts, with a brightly patterned shirt, all clashing colours and dazzle, stretched across his wide round torso like palm trees bending in a tropical breeze ... A pair of dark glasses covered his eyes and a red moustache covered his mouth."

Along side this weird man there is a girl (see illustration below).  Amanda's mother cannot see this girl.  Perhaps she too in an imaginary friend.  But why would an adult still have an imaginary friend? And what does this strange and slightly threatening man want from their family?

I usually only comment on books I have really enjoyed but this book has an enticing cover, a world famous illustrator and it has been promoted in several Christmas book catalogs so I thought I would share my reactions. This book did frighten me.  Not in a silly story book sort of way but really scare me.  In fact as I was reading it I had to put it down several times and take a break.  The events are resolved at the end but the way Mr Bunting devours his victims is quite disturbing.  Katherine England in her Magpies Review (Volume 29, Issue 5, November 2014 page 36) said : "I found it seriously, unpleasurably scary ... choose your child judiciously."

Here is a comment by another reviewer

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