cover image Pingo


Brandon Mull, , illus. by Brandon Dorman. . Shadow Mountain, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-60641-109-4

Mull's (the Fablehaven series) mischievous story introduces a boy named Chad with a furry, goblinlike imaginary friend, Pingo, who sports polka-dotted boxers and a striped scarf. For a time, Pingo and Chad happily battle ninjas and concoct magical potions, but in adolescence Chad decides it's time to leave his pal behind, claiming, “If I stop believing in you, you'll disappear!” Not so. Undaunted, Pingo becomes Chad's “imaginary enemy,” leading nighttime “pirate raids” and filling his backpack with maple syrup and peanut butter while the teen flirts with a girl. As a lonely elderly man, Chad relents and tells a delighted Pingo that he wants to be friends again, leading to another round of adventures (the final illustration, which echoes the book's first, shows the duo playing in a tent fashioned from a blanket as a doctor pushes a wheelchair past Chad's room). The message about hanging onto the magic of childhood comes through clearly (indeed, Pingo even bears a strong resemblance to Chad), and Dorman's brassy, exaggerated cartoon art should have kids giggling over Pingo's antics. Ages 3–up. (Aug.)