by Dan Santat
You may believe that imaginary friends do not exist until they are thought into being. In this story, they do. They come into being on an island far away, and there they wait to be selected and named by a child. One crowned, marshmallow-like creature tires of waiting. He decides to take matters into his own hands, and sails across dangerous waters to “the real world.” At first, it seems a dismal place. Then he catches sight of another imaginary and follows it to a bright playground full of children and their imaginary friends. Unfortunately, his child does not seem to be there—or is she? A fantastic friendship forms, our protagonist gains a name, and—as the end pages hint—the adventures continue long after the last page. Hopefully there will be more stories about this endearing hero in picture books to come. This book is very much in the style of Tom McCrae’s When I Woke Up I Was a Hippopotamus (2011, Andersen Press) as it artistically combines imaginary and realistic story elements. Readers may be reminded of Erica Perl’s Dotty (2010, Harry N. Abrams), another perceptive and warmly-told tale about children and imaginary friends. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green