Remembering my imaginary friend with Imaginary Fred

The cover of Imaginary Fred.

Both Dylan and Xander are imaginative children who are really into books. They go through them at a rate of knots. We were delighted then to be offered a copy of Imaginary Fred for them to enjoy.

Written by Irish Children’s Laureate Eoin Colfer and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – whose work the boys are very familiar with – Imaginary Fred is a truly wonderful story about friendship. As the title suggests, Fred is an imaginary friend. He floats like a feather on the wind until a child wishes for him. A friend for hire of sorts. It’s a premise that is simultaneously heartwarming and sad.

I won’t divulge any further plot details, but Dylan and Xander were captivated by the book. It’s a touching story by two great creative minds and the boys clearly adored it. It’s a rare treat for me to read to both of them these days – Dylan always wants to take over! I really enjoyed sharing the story with them. It’s testament to the storytelling and illustrations that they remained transfixed throughout.

Two boys with a copy of Imaginary Fred.

I briefly had an imaginary friend when I was four. A shared imaginary friend, in fact. A ginger cat called Oscar. He took it in turns visiting my best friend and me. Very community spirited! If memory serves, we may have first seen him in a book.

Imaginary friends are often synonymous with loneliness so it’s interesting looking back. I had a best friend and a little sister, so it seems somewhat unusual.

Maybe we both just really wanted a cat! My friend didn’t have one at the time and our cantankerous next door neighbour had been feeding ours to the point that he stopped coming home.

Around the same time, my dad used to make up stories about two French cats called Goriot and Cyrano, so maybe this played a part too.

Whatever the reason, Oscar was real to us and we got a lot out of talking about him. We often compared notes on the mischief he had been up to during his visits. My cat eventually moved back in after a charm offensive by my parents. I can’t swear that this coincided with Oscar disappearing, but it would make sense.

Reading Imaginary Fred to the boys definitely brought back these memories. It also served to show how important imaginary friends can be to children. It’s a pitch-perfect tale that I’m sure all kids will love.

Do your children have imaginary friends? Did you have one as a child?

Imaginary Fred is published by HarperCollins and out now, priced £7.99.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post.


  1. Nomita | your DIY family

    We love everything Oliver Jeffers and this is our new favourite. I can’t remember having an imaginary friend (I kind of wish I did – might have to create one now 😉 ) but I loved hearing your tale of Oscar the cat. How sweet to have a cat as your imaginary friend!

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