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The Imaginary

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,624 ratings  ·  610 reviews
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
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens (first published October 23rd 2014)
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Hannah Rose
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MANDI The babysitters name is Marigold. (Goldie)

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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,624 ratings  ·  610 reviews

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C.G. Drews
I am a BIG fan of imaginary friends (Helloooooo. I am a writer.) So obviously I knew this book and I would be marvellously happy in each other's company. Plus it's super cute. And the illustrations...aHHHHH. This is why I read MG, folks, because while YA is my favourite thing in ever, it is seriously lacking in the illustration department. Basically I adore the artist's style and how most of the drawings were black and white with a single splash of colour.

The story is, naturally, about a girl (
Featured on my 2014 favourites list!

‘What is this?’ she said, her back to the wardrobe.
‘Oh,’ said Amanda. ‘That’s my coat.’
‘And what’s it doing in there?’
‘Hanging up?’ Amanda suggested cautiously.
‘But, darling,’ her mum said in a quieter voice. ‘It’s all wet. Look, it’s dripping. Hang it up downstairs by the radiator. I’ve told you before, don’t just stick it in the cupboard. It’ll get mouldy. When are you ever going to learn?’
‘On Monday at school,’ Amanda said.

Meet Amanda Shuffleup.
She’s funny,
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are one of those lucky parents who gets to read to their kids then you gotta add this wickedly funny and creepy book to your list. I recommend it more towards the older kids because it covers some seriously dark stuff, I'm talking up there with Japanese horror movie The Grudge. To give you an idea there is a scene during a storm and the power has gone out, the pages go between black and white to show lightening and then suddenly you see the image in this link (only open if your happy to s ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm a little sad I couldn't read this as a kid and then again as an adult; I suspect the story would change greatly between the two readings.

This story seems like what we'd get if we asked Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman to collaborate. It's a little off-kilter, it's imaginative with a bent for strangeness, and there's a frightening adult whom other adults don't fear. There was even one chapter that sounded just like Gaiman's voice as I read it.

Imaginary friends.
Who had one?
I did. I had several, a
Sarah Churchill
I loved every moment of this, through every funny, moving and downright scary part.
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is so wonderful that stories like this exist for children.
Rashika (is tired)
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This is such a heartfelt book that is bound to make you feel all mushy and warm inside. If you, like me, were an avid watcher for Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, I think this book will be right up your alley and will probably have you flipping through the pages as fast as I was flipping through them. The only real disappointment I had while reading this book was that I read an e-arc so that meant I couldn’t experience the gorgeous draw
Yasmin Marsden
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Imaginary is an engaging children's story incorporating the magic of imagination with the realities of loss, love and danger. The plot was so bizarre it left me not wanting to put the book down as I needed to know what strange event was going to happen next! However, whilst the illustrations complimented the story well, they contradicted the whole concept of 'imagination', which left me frustrated as I could not visualise the characters in my own head. Without the illustrations, a lot more d ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Littered with stunning and brilliant illustrations and themes of the importance of creativity, The Imaginary introduces its readers to Amanda, an average British girl living with her apparent single mom. Although Amanda does have a few real friends (most of whom ignore her), her best friend in the world is Rudger, a creative and intelligent little boy who is her constant companion.

But Rudger isn't real. Unlike Amanda, Rudger is an imaginary friend.

Rudger can't seem to catch a break at all throu
K.J. Charles
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful children's book, one of the best I've encountered in a long time.Emily Gravett's art is outstanding, and beautifully integrated. The story is funny and scary and moving. Mr Bunting scares the crap out of me, let alone my kids, who were shocked into terrified silence (yesssss). Really excellent.

disclaimer: professional connection. I have lots of professional connections to lots of books and authors, and I never rave about books I don't love.
Melissa Chung
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This was such a unique story, a concept that I’ve never read before. My thirteen year old had very mixed feelings. “I really thought this was going to be a sad book. I was worried I was going to hate it or cry. That didn’t happen... I really liked it.” I’m giving this book a 3.5 star rating.

Imaginary is a story that starts off with a girl dying. What a shocking first sentence. This is what intrigued me and what my son thought was going to be the beginning of a sad book. However it is anything bu
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I'm not a fan of Amanda's character, I like the overall story. It's quite shocking for a middle grade story. And the illustrations are pretty nice.
Eve Leuzinger
A novel that had me enthralled from beginning to end. This book has such an imaginative and gripping story line it is hard to see how adults and children alike could put this down. The characters within the tale are all well developed and emotive that have their own individual places and journeys in the story. The relationship between the two main characters Amanda and Rudger is particularly exciting as their individual journeys carry the narrative strings of the story and as they are so cleverl ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
The whole book is amazing! The way in which it is written, the imagery and the concept of the story is incredible. The front cover of the book creates an fantastic starting point when introducing the book to children, the image and reflection of the image along with colour and details can stimulate a lot of thought and ideas and get children predicting what the story may be about along with what the picture on the cover may be representing. The use of colour thought-out the book is very c
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever, warm, sweet, but also terrifying, with a subtle current of darkness even under the main 'bad guys' of the story. Like, for example, (view spoiler)

I appreciate that one reviewer compared this to Dahl and Gaiman. I'd also add that if you're familiar with Emily Gravett you know why she's the perfect choice as illustrator. And I'm grateful that she did lots of illustrations for it!

I will consid
Avital Nathan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gabrielle Sandford-Marshall

The Imaginary is a wonderful story suitable for KS2. The book provides an enticing front cover which displays the protagonists Amanda and Rudger. The textured front cover provides the opportunity to discuss the potential themes and characters in the text.

Gravett’s powerful illustrations, both grayscale and brightly coloured, provide captivating imagery alongside the narrative throughout the book. The use of colour to depict life, imagination and emotion is transferable as a cross c
C.J. Milbrandt
Amanda is a wildly imaginative child, and Rudger is her imaginary friend. Theirs seems an idyllic sort of best-friendship until the mysterious Mr. Bunting turns up in their neighborhood and takes an interest in Rudger.

While there were things I initially liked (especially the illustrations), the tone of this story is off-kilter, unhappy, and increasingly unsettling. Rudger's helplessness made me uneasy. His "real" friend's unwillingness to listen to him or see how afraid he was ... frustrating.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having been asked to read this book as part of my university course, I can definitely say it wouldn't have been one that I would have picked up off the bookshelf. It was a little slow to get going personally however the pace of the book picked up and I could not put it down. The context of the book meant it would be easily relatable to children and relevant to a certain age range. Mr Bunting made the plot slightly eerie, but I couldn't help feel sorry for the guy - what happened to him to make h ...more
Stefan Bachmann
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of Coraline. Only I thought it was better than Coraline. :) It's a tiny bit creepy, very funny, super imaginative (get it, because it's about imaginary friends, haaaaa, wow Stefan), and the illustrations are plentiful and whimsical and sometimes terrifying. For some reason I was expecting this to be tragic à la A Monster Calls, but it's not, and apart from a few PG scary bits and a touch of dark humor, it's all positivity and jolliness and adventure. I loved it.
This might be my most favorite middle-grade novel I've ever read. I can't even count the number of times I stopped while reading to read a part out loud to my husband or show him one of the illustrations. The world that A.F. Harrold has created (and Emily Gravett has enhanced with her art) is just so joyful and poignant and delightful. Highly recommended.
Eleanor Abbott
Although a gripping and touching story, the Imaginary was my least favourite of the 3 required readings this summer. I found the book difficult to get stuck into as quickly as the other two and I feel like this was due to the expectation of more images in this picture book. That being said, after finishing the story, one of the most effective and my favourite part of the book was the imagery, and the quantity of illustrations weaved throughuout. Having the stunning images by Emily Gravett on eve ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The structure of this book was very well thought out and could be very engaging, the way in which the text alternated between different characters’ points of view meant that the image created in your head could be developed and take many different forms, helping the reader to be more enveloped and intrigued in the story. As well as this, the illustrations within the book were incredibly vivid, helping emphasise key moments in the story, enhancing the readers thoughts, ideas and imagination of ho ...more
Abbie Stagg
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Imaginary is a moving book about a boy called Rudger, who can be only be seen by his friend Amanda, after she finds him in her wardrobe one day. Amanda's mum comes to terms with Rudger's existence and plays along with her daughter having an imaginary friend, as she use to have one called Fridge as a child, although some of her friends at school do see it as quite odd. One day, they meet a strange man called Mr Bunting, who has an imaginary friend himself, who they later discover is evil and ...more
Megan Watterson
• I like this book for a class project, it allows for the class to indulge in a world which is similar to their own with an element of magic. It may relate to some children that have imaginary friends. The book is based on a friendship between the two children and that friendship is what ends up keeping both of them alive.
• The villain in this book is frightening and the introduction of his imaginary is dramatic but presented in such a way that captures attention. The scene with this in ends vag
Emma Wiegman
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This book is amazing! The plot takes the reader on an exciting and emotional journey. I couldn't put it down. I believe children will love this text and be inspired by it. Mr Bunting makes the perfect villain that children will hate to love. I am inspired by this text and can't wait to put it into use in a classroom!
Jane Beedell
Mr Bunting makes the perfect villain. A beautiful story about children's imagination that keeps you hooked until the end
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Erica Barmash first mentioned this one on Twitter months and months ago. Middle grade, as I keep saying, isn’t my jam most of the time. However, all of her praise made me want to check out The Imaginary, so, when the time came, I requested it, crossing my fingers I wouldn’t regret my choice.

I’m so grateful that I tried The Imaginary, because I think, without Erica’s promo, I probably never would have looked at it twice. The
Holly Payne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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A.F. Harrold is an English poet. He writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. He was Glastonbury Festival Website's Poet-In-Residence in 2008, and Poet-In-Residence at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010. He won the Cheltenham All Stars Slam Championship in 2007 and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7. ...more
“And then she stretched, pulled out like dribbling custard and with a delicious unlikely slurping noise he swallowed her whole.” 0 likes
“Her hair floated around her, like a black dandelion, wafted back and forth by underwater currents.” 0 likes
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