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Thank Goodness It’s FRED!
Written by Kaila Eunhye Seo
Illustrated by Kaila Eunhye Seo
Peter Pauper Press 5/01/20`15
40 pages Age 4—8
“Fred’s world is filled with fantastical friends that make
his days so much fun he hardly notices that no one else can see them. But one day Fred goes off to school, and things start to change. As Fred grows up, his childhood friends slowly fade away and seem to disappear, taking some of life’s sparkle with them. But a chance meeting with a special young girl reminds Fred—and readers young and old alike—that magic and wonder never really disappear . . . they live forever in our hearts.” [book jacket]
Fred’s imaginary friends have the people in his small town thinking he is different—a polite way of saying the boy is odd. Fred has the ability to see and hear things other people cannot. Fred also believes in things the other townsfolk either cannot, or simply will not, believe. Despite the townsfolk’s’ inability to see, hear, or care about Fred’s creatures, the creatures cared about the townsfolk.
“Sometimes they acted like the wind and moved branches out of the way for people.
And sometimes they acted like shade and kept people cool on hot summer days”
What is Fred seeing and hearing that make the others consider the young boy an oddity? Fred sees creatures . . . imaginary creatures . . . imaginary friends. He never cares about making other friends—he already has the best friends a young boy could hope to have.
When the day arrives for Fred to begin school, he makes new friends . . . real, alive friends. His imaginary friends wait, no longer part of Fred’s day. One day becomes two, then three, and each school year blends into the next. One-by-one the creatures Fred adored disappear, losing their color, and fading into the background. By the time he reaches adulthood, all the imaginary creatures are lost from Fred’s memory.
The real world takes too much of Fred’s attention and time. Fred’s days run together as he does the same things day after day. This monotony leaves Fred feeling empty, friendless, and all alone, even in the park where he played so joyfully with . . . with . . . he doesn’t remember with whom he played with, or even what his playmates look liked. Where did his childhood friends go?
FRED will have you wondering when your imaginary friends left you. When these old friends leave, they take with them a very precious commodity: your imagination. Can you imagine doing anything other than your daily routine? Not just a dream vacation, but something that will cheer you up, daily make you implausibly happy, and has the synapses on the right-side of your brain sizzling with ideas, as they jump from neuron to neuron. Neither can Fred, poor guy. Then he gets lucky. A small child comes to the park while Fred sits reading—always a delightful detail in a children’s book. The young girl, with a pocket full of lollipops, asks Fred if he and his friends would like a lollipop. His friends anxiously watch Fred, who says,
Someone can see his friends. They are all still with him. A synapse POPS! Another SIZZLES! Fred’s heart no longer feels weighed down, and instead, he feels free. Fred’s imaginary friends—and his imagination—return. Adult Fred finally realizes he . . . wait, I cannot tell you what Fred realized. Fred would like to tell you himself. This is his story. FRED surprised me, in a very wonderful way. Imagination, and the magical journeys it can create, is not the sole domain of childhood, but we tell ourselves there is no time for such “silliness,” yet without retaining our child-like selves, we lose much of our creativity.
I love Ms. Seo’s direct lines in the pen and ink illustrations. Each spread overflows with artistic detail and the color remains only with the story and its characters. I think Ms. Seo’s attention to detail and using color to focus readers’ eyes on the story shows she cares about making a terrific sensory experience for children. The monsters are hilarious and kid-friendly. Not one creature will cause nightmares, as none is even a wee-bit scary. They walk among the unsuspecting—and unbelieving—in town without any commotion. I do wonder how the non-believers (who possess little to no imagination), would think if they saw what Fred could see. The story and all the eye-catching illustrations are a definite sign that this debut author/illustrator has not lost her childhood imagination, inspiration, or her imaginary friends.
FRED. Text copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, NY.
Purchase FRED at Amazon—Book Depository—Peter Pauper Press.
Learn more about FRED HERE.
TEACHERS: Common Core Teaching Guide for FRED.
Meet the author/illustrator, Kaila Eunhye Seo, at her website: http://www.eunhyeseo.com/
Find more picture books at the Peter Pauper Press website: http://www.peterpauper.com/
**NOTE: Through the month of May, 20% off at Peter Pauper Press. Use Code: MAY 20
Review Section: word count = 663
Huntington Press Best Picture Books 2015
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
MEGA FRED FRIDAY GIVEAWAY from May 1st – May 29th
Set of all TEN of our Critically Acclaimed Picture Books
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Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo
An EARLY COPY of
All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby
Elephantastic by Michael Engler
The Zoo Is Closed Today! by Evelyn Beilenson
Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep! by Bruce Arant
Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley
Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley
Celia by Cristelle Vallat
Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth
Digby Differs by Miriam Koch!
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Looks like a good one! I love the look of the illustrations. Will pick this one up for sure. Thanks!
Love the looks and sound of this imaginative story.
I agree with Mr. Allegra! 😀
Your synopsis made me all warm and squishy inside. This one is on my To Buy list.
Warm and squishy sounds nice.