March 4, 2015

The Imaginary - A.F. Harrold

The Imaginary A.F. Harrold book cover
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold (illus. by Emily Gravett)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in this review.]

Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect. Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up? (Goodreads)

As a child, I was often encouraged to embrace my imagination, dreaming far and wide of things wonderful and wicked and utterly fantastical. The Imaginary is an utterly delightful romp of a story that explores the imagination, which is why it was so personally appealing. It’s the kind of story that younger middle grade readers will definitely get a kick out of; for us older readers, it’s an invitation to be nostalgic about the days when we had imaginary friends or pets or places of our own.

In particular, it highlights the pleasures and perils of being an imaginary friend, as narrated by main character Rudger, who just so happens to be Amanda’s imaginary friend. It was real fun to read about Amanda and Rudger having all sorts of amazing adventures together, all fueled simply by the power of Amanda’s imagination. Things take a turn for the terrifying when someone comes after Rudger – Mr. Bunting, an individual who devour imaginary friends to satiate a personal hunger. The rest of The Imaginary tells of what happens when Amanda slips into unconsciousness and can no longer imagine Rudger, how Rudger finds his way back to Amanda in spite of all the odds stacked against him, and how things wind up ending with Mr. Bunting. Really, it’s one extraordinary story filled with extraordinary characters (including the particularly memorable Zinzan the cat and Snowflake the T-Rex and Fridge the dog).

The Imaginary is a simple story made special by the imagination that is poured into it by the author and illustrator alike. It’s also particularly great to note that having an imagination is portrayed as a good thing, which is something I will always like. (In particularly, Amanda’s mom is a spectacular example of a grown-up who doesn’t berate Amanda for having an intense imagination. I do think she needed to be more involved with her daughter, but she definitely makes up for that.) Overall, The Imaginary is a fun read, and one that will invite all readers to use their own imaginations too.


  1. This one sounds really cute and intriguing, Alexa! I don't read enough books with illustrations, but I'd definitely want to. Plus I was definitely imaginative as a child as well, and it would be nice to get back to the good old days with books like these. :)

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

  2. Shelumiel Gueco DSMarch 7, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing and putting this on my radar, Alexa!


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)