Imaginary Friends … Imaginary Fred

Nov 15, 2016 by

images-2    Long before my children were born, way back in 2002, in the raw, post 9/11 world, The New Yorker printed a desperately needed essay by Adam Gopnik about his daughter Olivia called Mr. Ravioli.  Mr. Ravioli was Olivia’s imaginary friend who was always too busy to play.  Charlie Ravioli was unreachable on phone, you had to leave him voicemail messages; he was constantly in meetings, working and generally unavailable for playdates.  When Charlie Ravioli’s imaginary assistant came into existence, Gopnik rang his sister, a developmental psychologist, who told him it was time to leave New York City; his daughter’s imaginary friends represented all that is wrong with busy, metropolitan life for a child.  After further investigation Gopnik concludes that Charlie Ravioli represented something essential about New York … its a great essay and you can read the summary in The New Yorker.

Oliver Jeffers and Eoin Colfer’s Imaginary Fred is the exact opposite foil to Charlie Ravioli.  Imaginary Fred is a highly engaged, responsive, sensitive, deeply empathetic and genuinely caring (nearly) true-blue friend.  The story is warm and inspiring, it is instructional on the nature of friendship and how it changes and evolves without being preachy or diluting the quality of the storytelling.  There are good twists and turns, you are genuinely drawn to Fred.


I found this story so compelling I thought that it could be good to use with older children.  I don’t regularly discuss this, but when I am not running my kids around and working on London Baby and Kids, I teach Language Arts.  I read Imaginary Fred and part of the Charlie Ravioli essay to my year 6 creative writing students.  I then had them create their own imaginary friend as part of a writing assignment.  They were told to create the most fantastic friend, thinking through what traits they would like their friend to have.  They then brainstormed adventures they could go on with their imaginary friends.  Kids were dreaming of running away on the QE2, of riding around on motorbikes, swinging through the branches of rainforests and more.  Imaginary Fred is more than a good story, it is quality children’s literature that will leave your children richer for the experience of having read it.


If you fancy a chance to win your own copy of Imaginary Fred, join Mothers and Shakers on Twitter Thursday 17th November at 8:30pm for a Twitter party with amazing giveaways.  We will be tweeting from @MothersShakers, using the hashtag #MSImaginaryFred.  Please join as we will be giving away five copies of Imaginary Fred, as well as a £20 book token for one lucky winner.  Everyone joining the party and using the hashtag has a chance to win.

(T&Cs: Twitter party begin at 8.30pm Thursday, 17th November. The prize winners will be randomly selected from every Tweet collated using the #MSImaginaryFred hashtag between 8.30 and 9.30pm on Thursday, 17th November. No purchase necessary, prize not transferable, prizes will be sent directly from Harper Collins. Mothers and Shakers will take all and any reasonable steps to ensure prizes are fulfilled, but does not take responsibility for prizes lost or damaged in transit. Promoter’s name and address, and prize winners names available on request).

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1 Comment

  1. Mr. Ravioli sounds a bit like me….. love your take on this book, so great for you to share with us. We love this book!

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