"Not Fade Away!" Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer
BEING ALONE IS NO FUN.
At least, being alone is not good when the result is loneliness. And Sam is lonely.
But there's an app for that. He's called Fred. He's a turquoise-toned collection of pixels and he is available for lonely kids.
IF the conditions are right, Fred can appear in a flash of lightning, available for best friend duty.
FRED FLOATED LIKE A FEATHER IN THE WIND...UNTIL A LONELY CHILD WISHED FOR HIM.
And Fred can be very versatile. He tries hard to do whatever the kid imagines a friend can do with him. He can shoot free throws... or he can be the basketball flying through the hoop. There's just one problem for Fred. His job never seemed to last very long.
ONE DAY A FRIEND WOULD FIND A REAL FRIEND IN THE REAL WORLD, ONE WHO WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE IGNORED WHEN GROWNUPS WERE AROUND.
WHEN THIS DAY CAME, FRED WOULD FEEL HIMSELF FADING.
Call it the Tinkerbell Effect. When Fred's friend doesn't need him anymore, he starts to fade, pixel by pixel, until he's just a wisp of himself and the wind blows him away.
And then a friendless boy named Sam wishes for a friend, and ZAP! Fred reports for duty. They do everything together. They make up plays to perform and play music together. They build a clubhouse with its own sign that reads...
This time Fred doesn't want Sam to find a forever friend to replace him. He wants to stay and play with Sam always. But when Sam meets a girl named Sammi at a party, it looks like friendship at first sight. They do all the things together that Fred used to do with Sam. Sam is sensitive and tells Fred not to fret; he's his main man forever. Still, the more Sam and Sammi play together, the more Fred notices that sadly he is beginning to fade.
"I CAN SEE THROUGH MY HAND," THOUGHT FRED.
But there's one thing about Sammi. She, too, has an imaginary friend, Frieda, and Fred and Frieda discover that they have something more than pixels in common--the friendship of their friends. And then they notice a promising change in themselves.
Their pixels seem to be becoming permanent
As the two twosomes become a friendly foursome, it looks like nobody is going to fade away, in the imaginative collaboration of noted middle reader author Eoin Colfer and Caldecott-winning artist Oliver Jeffers in their Imaginary Fred (Harper, 2015). Jeffers' witty and wispy pen-and-ink drawings are the perfect medium for portraying an imaginary friend, setting off Colfer's quirky characters skillfully as together they explore the ineffable nature of friendship with the help of a bit of inventive fantasy. Says the New York Times reviewer, "Jeffers could illustrate a tax return and make it funny; his charming, willowy pen-and-ink artwork adds his trademark irreverence to this gentle tale about the ever-shifting landscape of friendship."
Pair this one with last year's Caldecott winner, Dan Santat's The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. (Read review here.)