Jacques Papier moves from one child to the next, fulfilling his imaginary friend duties, and ultimately learning about the power of friendship and the courage it takes to be yourself. One of my favorite moments comes after Jacques gets paired with a very shy, very real kid named Bernard. The two help each other realize just how special it is to be noticed by somebody else. As Jacques helps Bernard find his voice, Bernard helps Jacques find his compassion for others. I was holding back tears by the end - something I wasn’t expecting from the overall humorous tone of the book, but it added great depth to the character arc.
While Jacques has good reason to question his literal visibility, this entire book deals with themes of visibility and the agency of children who are growing up and trying to navigate an adult world. I also found it dealt with emotions in a healthy manner. Jacques misses Fleur and he never tries to minimize his own feelings. Instead, he finds a group of fellow imaginary friends and talks through his emotions. Along with sharing his emotional journey, he learns to listen and empathize with those around him.
The beginning of this book reminded me of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid in style of prose and format. With fun drawings sprinkled throughout and short chapters, this book is ideal for readers who are ready to tackle chapter books with more advanced words and humor. However, it would also make for a fun read-aloud story for younger children.
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-box, feel good, laugh inducing middle grade read then Confessions of an Imaginary Friend is just the book for you!