Imaginary, by Lee Bacon | Book Review

Book Review of Imaginary
The Children’s Book Review


Written by Lee Bacon

Illustrated by Katy Wu

Ages 8-12 | 320 Pages

Publisher: Amulet Books | ISBN-13: 978-1419746642

What to Expect: Grief, bullying, imagination, emotional intelligence, and family.

In this poignant, creative middle-grade novel, Lee Bacon paints a vivid picture of a young protagonist’s struggle to reconcile a painful reality with his rich imaginative life.

Shovel knows he shouldn’t exist. He’s Zach’s imaginary friend, and everyone knows that no kid keeps having an imaginary friend when they’re already starting middle school. The problem is, Zach really needs a friend right now—even if that friend is only an imaginary ball of purple fluff.

Not only is he still filled with grief about his dad’s death, but now a gang of bullies—including his former childhood best friend—are doing their best to make sure middle school is a never-ending nightmare for him. But is Shovel’s friendship helping? After all, being seen talking to an imaginary friend only makes the bullying worse.

Told from the perspective of the imaginary friend, Imaginary invites readers to explore emotions—both their own and the feelings of people around them—that are hidden under the surface. Humor takes the edge off the challenging topic of grief, and Zach is a relatable, likable main character whose struggles with bullying, peer relationships, and school culture will be familiar to many readers. Imaginary is a story about loss but also about growing up and learning how to act independently and confidently, and readers can learn right alongside Zach. Katy Wu’s cartoon-like illustrations bring Zach’s imaginary world to life, adding a touch of magic to the story.

Imaginary is a powerful, optimistic, and enjoyable novel.

Buy the Book

Lee Bacon

About the Author

Lee Bacon is the author of several books for young people, including the JOSHUA DREAD and LEGENDTOPIA series, as well as the bestselling Audible Original audio story THE MYSTERY OF ALICE. His upcoming novel THE LAST HUMAN is being developed as a major motion picture by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Sony Pictures. His books have been translated into twenty languages.

To find out more, check out his website:

Imaginary by Lee Bacon was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Imaginary by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with grief, bullying, imagination, emotional intelligence, and family.

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July 28, 2022 at 05:59PM Dr. Jen Harrison