Lê, Minh

Real to Me

(2) PS Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa. "When you have a great friend, the rest of the world can seem to disappear." But if that friend suddenly disappears, can you trust that they were real? Lê (Lift, rev. 5/20) and Figueroa's (illustrator of We Wait for the Sun, rev. 5/21) heartwarming story adds a twist to the typical imaginary-friend scenario: here it's a brown-skinned girl who unexpectedly vanishes and a green, furry monster who's despondent over her absence and is left questioning what's true. Over time, the monster realizes that what matters is that "she was real to me." Repetition in Lê's text highlights similarities and differences between the monster's experiences with the little girl, without her, and then with new monster friends. This technique emphasizes and validates the childlike thought process of the monster, a stand-in for young readers who may be working through their own feelings of uncertainty; it also helps them better understand change, both in the text's phrasing and in friendships. The depth and textures in Figueroa's digital illustrations add detail to the monster's fantastical world; rich purples and greens throughout the book convey the warmth of the duo's interactions. A friend may disappear from your life, but the impact of that friendship remains.


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