Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers celebrate imaginary companionship and highlight the importance of friendship as nourishment for our sense of being

Eoin Colfer, Imaginary Fred. Illustrations by Olliver Jeffers

Published  2015 by HarperCollins, 48p


Headaches are a pain. A bee sting hurts even more. But there is one thing that’s worse than getting stung on the head by a bee on a rainy day, and that is… loneliness. Being alone is no fun.

Friendship is a challenge; even for children. Dealing with the long process of understanding and developing their own needs, children also learn to accept the behavior of their companions. And imagination serves as an essential tool. It doesn’t substitute reality but makes development less complicated and helps children experiment the world.

The collaboration between Eoin Colfer and Olliver Jeffers led to a smart story about an imaginary friend. His name is Fred and he is also the narrator of the events. Most scenes are black and white except for Fred. He is made of blue pixilation and floats like a feather in the wind until a lonely child needs him. So, if the conditions are just right, with little electricity, luck or magic, Fred is summoned on Earth and does his best to please his friends; he even vacuums the carpet and never complains.

please friends.jpg

But no matter how hard Fred tried, the same thing happened every time. One day, his friend would find a real friend in the real world. A friend who did not have to be ignored when grown-ups were around.when this day came, as it always did, Fred would feel himself fade.

But Fred dislikes being seasonal and has his own needs. He dreams of a permanent friendship with someone who loves reading, music, drama and looking at the shapes of the clouds.

One day a boy called Sam summons Fred and shortly they discover how much alike they are. Fred finds delight in everything they do together but lives with a constant fear that he will be soon replaced. Eventually, Sam meets Sammi, a girl who has herself an imaginary friend, Frieda, who is yellow.  The four will explore friendship together and concentrate on music.

with sam

When Sam and Sammi become interested in graphic novels and leave the quartet, an amazing thing happens, surprising even the scientists. The two imaginary friends don’t  fade anymore because

Friendship is friendship. Imaginary or not, the same laws apply.


Complement your reading with Oliver’s Jeffers definition of ownership or discover children’s creative power in a story that became a classic.


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