Just Imagine

The Impossible Boy

Authored by Ben Brooks
Published by Quercus

Emma and Oleg miss their friend Sarah, so they decide to invent a new class member. They add Sebastian Cole to the register and complete work on his behalf. Imagine their surprise when a boy claiming to be Sebastian suddenly appears! In fact, all sorts of impossible things seem to be happening, from goats in school to walking snowmen. Mysterious forces are less than pleased with Sebastian’s arrival, and are circling, ready to remove him. When he disappears, it’s up to Emma and Oleg to rescue their new friend.

This is such a lovely book. Emma and Oleg both have their fair share of problems, and they deal with these by sticking together. Emma’s mum has to work all the time to make ends meet. Visiting other people’s houses, where they don’t reuse tea bags, makes Emma realise her family have slipped from poor to really poor. But Emma knows she is loved, and her homelife with her brothers has a vigour that is all too real. Oleg lives with his depressed dad, who sleeps all day since he lost his job, and his writer Grandma, who won’t leave her attic until she finished a book. No one is taking care of him and this makes Oleg very anxious. His anxiety, and Emma’s circumstances, are depicted thoughtfully, without Ben Brook’s ever patronising his characters or readers.

Books are the place for impossible things to happen, and they abound here, but it was the realistic touches that I enjoyed the most. Imagination is at the heart of Emma and Oleg story, but the other characters, from their Year 6 classmates and teachers, to  Emma’s brother,  are very well drawn. Each have real depth and add something extra to the read.

This heartwarming story would be enjoyed by independent young readers and it would make a good class book too, with plenty of action and a very realistic depiction of classroom life alongside the adventure and magic. If your class contains fans of David Walliams and David Baddiel, get them to give this a try!