Friday, April 17, 2015

The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold. Illustrated by Emily Gravett

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

A. F. Harrold and Emily Gravett collaborate to create this wonderful story full of surreal and fantastical inventions.

Amanda has an imaginary friend called Rudger. Nobody can see Rudger, but he’s very real to Amanda. Even Amanda’s mother is willing to play along with Rudger. She knows what it’s like to have an imaginary friend, because when she was a little girl she had an imaginary dog named Fridge. Everything is going along swimmingly for Amanda and Rudger. They have the best of times together, until a rather mysterious man turns up on her doorstep. His name is Mr Bunting and he says he’s doing a survey, but Amanda’s mother senses that something is not quite right and sends him away.

It turns out that Mr Bunting is not a very nice person at all: he hunts down and gobbles up  imaginaries, the people, animals and various other creatures that have been dreamt up by the imaginations of ‘reals’.

This is a wonderful story full of surreal and fantastical inventions, where the plot goes off in all sorts of directions. Don’t bother bringing the rational side of your brain to this tale, as The Imaginary asks you very much to believe in all sorts of improbable things. There are also some wonderfully comic scenes in the after hours library where all the imaginaries reside while they wait for new employment opportunities as friends to reals. A large dinosaur named Snowflake offers advice and there is a teddy bear, called Bone Cruncher, who pushes a trolley with cake and hot chocolate for everyone’s refreshment. It’s all quite mad, like something out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

This is a beautifully presented book, with Emily Gravett’s fantastic illustrations fully integrated into the story.

The Imaginary, by A. F. Harrold. Illustrated by Emily Gravett. Published by Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781408852460 RRP: $19.99

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