Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fun Picture Books about Imaginary Friends (Visible and Invisible)

Imaginary friends are almost a rite of childhood. This fun collection of picture books highlights a variety of imaginary friends - both physical and invisible - and the many ways that these friends help the main characters grow and learn important lessons.

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Wilsdorf. I found out about this adorable picture book at the most recent Charlotte Zolotow awards (where we were treated to a sung speech by Lemony Snicket, ahem, I mean Daniel Handler, about why words are the most important things in a picture book. Priceless). I was delighted to learn that the author actually got the idea for this story from her daughter who, as a small child, befriended a squash one day in the shopping cart and never looked back. This charming story follows this unusual friendship and the advancing seasons that threaten it. A lovely story about the power of imagination and nature.

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. This is the story of what happens when you are bored. And come across a potato. Who also happens to be bored. I love how quickly the narrator shifts from being bored to trying to convince the potato about all the great things that kids can do. A fun book for exploring imagination or trying to conquer an attack of "I'm Bored!" (H/T Elisabeth at The Dirigible Plum.)

The Adventures of Beekle: the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. This is the clever and heart-rending story of Beekle who lives on the island of imaginary friends, waiting to be imagined so that he can join his new friend. Sick of waiting and being abandoned, Beekle sets off to the real world to find his friend for himself. A great way to start a discussion about friendship, stereotypes, and preconceived ideas. Beekle finds a friend quite different than the one he imagined, and this story might help our students do the same. (H/T Ryan at Reading Rocks!)

Marilyn's Monster (2015) by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Marilyn is waiting and waiting for her monster to arrive, but none has. She breaks with tradition and sets off to find her monster. This charming picture book makes an excellent bookend to last year's Caldecott-winning Beekle.

Leo: a ghost story (2015) by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson. Another in the recent pantheon of books about invisible friends, Leo is a ghost who finds himself sadly unwanted when a new family moves in. Rather than give up, he sets off to find out where he belongs. A predictable, yet still adorable, conclusion awaits. (H/T Mr. Shu.)

Imaginary Fred (2015) by Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. This interesting take on the imaginary-friend-picture-book focuses on the imaginary friend, Fred, and his fervent desire to not be forgotten and separated from the human friends he keeps making. This one has some cute twists and humor that will appeal to kids.

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