An imaginary person has needs of his own.
Fred, whose humanlike shape is made of digital blue patterning with no outline, floats “like a feather in the wind until a lonely little child wish[es] for him.” If the conditions are “just right”—a lightning strike, or maybe fish falling from the sky—he pops down to Earth and becomes that child’s imaginary friend. It’s always short-lived: as soon as the child finds “a real friend in the real world,” Fred fades, whisked back to the sky until someone new needs him. Despite shabby treatment—the real-world kids poke him with swords, make him vacuum, toss him hoopward as if he’s a basketball, and undress him to laugh at his (not graphically depicted) nakedness—Fred longs for a friendship to be permanent. Humor arrives in Jeffers’ quirky line drawings (the art is largely black and white). Fred and a friend struggle “to understand how the toilet work[s]”; a musical quartet—two real musicians, two imaginary—baffles the audience: “Why are there only two of them?” Common to many imaginary-friend stories, the ontology may confuse: Fred may be invisible, but he has thoughts and desires, so is he really imaginary? Readers who sometimes or even often enjoy playing by themselves may not appreciate the text’s heavy-handed insistence that “being alone is no fun.”
Not the solidest piece in the looking-for-a-friend genre. (Picture book. 3-6)