Review of Real to Me

Real to Me Real to Me
by Minh Lê; illus. by Raissa Figueroa
Preschool    Knopf    40 pp.
5/23    9780593377499    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593377505    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593377512    $10.99

“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.

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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