By A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett
Expected publication March 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Rudger doesn't care that he's imaginary - Amanda can see him and that's all that matters. But, it turns out Amanda isn't the only one who can see him. The evil Mr. Bunting hunts imaginaries and he's found Rudger. He'll stop at nothing to devour Rudger. But what happens to an imaginary friend when his friend stops believing?
I was really excited that this ARC showed up at my work. I remember hearing about it a while back and thinking it sounded really interesting. Plus, I knew it was illustrated by Emily Gravett and I love her style, so that made me even more curious.
This was a very compelling and quick read, but it's also pretty dark. I can definitely see certain sensitive children being scared witless by some of the action in this book, but for kids who can't get enough of Coraline and its brethren, I think this definitely hits the right notes. While I found Amanda to be a bit of a prat, I think the driving force of this book is Rudger. He wants nothing more than to be the best friend he can be for Amanda. However, after he encounters Mr. Bunting and the other imaginaries, he becomes just as determined to put an end to the evil.
While it can be pretty dark, it can also be quite amusing. It's not terribly surprising either; the bad guy is malevolently bad, the good guy is beatifically good, and the ending is about what you'd expect. But I really enjoyed the journey with this book. I think Gravett's illustrations add just the perfect touch to the story and I think the finished package will be a sight to behold.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.