By Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, HarperCollins, 48 pages, $23.99
There are not enough imaginary friends in the world. Is it just me or didn't every kid under 10 used to have one? Maybe I'm just being nostalgic for a world that never existed. Regardless, Imaginary Fred could quite possibly bring back the imaginary friend. It's the classic story: Through a bit of magic and weird science, an imaginary friend steps out of the mind and into the world. The twist in this telling is that the real-life imaginary friend has his own wants wishes and desires. A tender tale about respecting other people's needs. We loved it.
Elwood Bigfoot – Wanted: Birdie Friends!
By Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Nate Wragg, Sterling Children's Books, 32 pages, $16.95
It's amazing how children, maybe even more then adults, believe in the theory of eureka moments and instant enlightenment. The most fabulous thing about Elwood Bigfoot is how the main character spends the vast majority of the story failing miserably. Being a Bigfoot is lonely, so Elwood seeks to make friends with the birds – a task that's way trickier than it looks. It's tempting for all of us to believe that skills can be acquired without hard work and failure. Seeing Elwood struggle without giving up really resonated with both Phoenix and Frida. And, I guess, me, too.
Thank You and Good Night
By Patrick McDonnell, Little, Brown, 40 pages, $17.99
It doesn't matter how old you are, the chances are high that you have a good-night routine. Whether it's getting tucked in or watching Law & Order repeats, all of us tend to require a repeatable set of actions to find our way into slumber. Thank You and Good Night, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, celebrates this innate human tendency. The story of a stuffy-sleepover party was a little too peaceful for Phoenix, whose good-night routine now involves reading chapter books on his own. However, Frida loved it so much that she's started having stuffy-sleepover parties of her own.