cover image Imaginary Fred

Imaginary Fred

Eoin Colfer, illus. by Oliver Jeffers. Harper, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-237955-9

In this smart collaboration, Colfer and Jeffers introduce Fred, a seasoned imaginary friend. Fred knows the drill: he keeps lonely children company until a human friend appears, then clears out (“Usually by lunchtime on the second day, Fred would be mostly invisible”). Jeffers’s spidery vignettes are perfectly synced to Colfer’s bubbly, confiding narrative, and he underscores Fred’s evanescent nature by giving him a body of half-tone aqua dots that deepen and fade. Secretly, Fred pines for a forever friend; his current human assignee, Sam, shares all of his interests—reading, music, playacting. When Sam meets a girl named Sammi, Fred is downcast, especially when Sam leaves a note that says he and Sammi are working on a comic book. “Comic book? thought Fred. That was our idea. Me and Sam.” But Sammi has her own imaginary friend, Frieda (her half-tone mesh is yellow), and the four thrive. There’s always anguish when a close friend finds someone new, but Colfer and Jeffers show that shuffling allegiances can sometimes multiply the fun. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Sophie Hicks, Sophie Hicks Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Moreton, Bell, Lomax, Moreton Agency. (Sept.)