Rules of Imaginary Friends:
1. You are as your friend imagined you. If your friend imagined you as capable of passing through doors and walls, you are. (This is a bonus, as friends who aren’t often become stuck, then forgotten, and so cease to exist.)
2. With the exception of other imaginary friends, only the friend who first imagined you can hear or see you.
3. If your friend dies, you vanish.

Novelist and elementary school teacher Matthew Dicks quickly establishes the ground rules for an alternate—or perhaps unseen—reality where imaginary friends aren’t make believe after all. In Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, these figments of childhood provide their creators with comfort that’s lacking in day-to-day life.

For 8-year-old Max, whose autism often leaves him frustrated and misunderstood at school, the comfort that comes from his friend Budo is especially important. Budo is often Max’s defense and guide, because Max imagines Budo as older.

But Budo’s comfort level is shaken as he sees his fellow imaginary beings disappearing as their creators grow older and find strength without imaginary friends. Surely that won’t happen to him, as Max so clearly needs a friend.

That’s even more obvious when Mrs. Patterson, Max’s Learning Center teacher, kidnaps him from school. It’s up to Budo to figure out where Max has gone and how to return Max to his parents. Budo teams up with other imaginary friends, relying on their knowledge, expertise and sometimes unique skills, to rescue Max. In the process, Budo realizes he would exist forever if Max had to rely solely on him. He faces a dilemma: How can he save Max and himself? The choices he makes in this imaginative novel remind the reader of the value of friendship and why we need others in our lives.

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