Poor Big Sis was home sick for most of last week. She loves school, so was gutted to miss out on seeing her friends, but luckily I had a little surprise to cheer her up.
We’d been sent a copy of the new kids’ picture book, Imaginary Fred – a magical collaboration between New York Times bestselling Irish author Eoin Colfer, and Northern Irish illustrator and artist, Oliver Jeffers, and winner of Junior Book of the year at the Irish Book Awards 2015.
So I bundled her up in a snuggly onesie, tucked her into the big bed, and presented her with the book. ‘Can you stay with me while I read it, Mummy?’ she asked. ‘Of course!’ I replied, settling in beside her.
She started reading out loud, and I suddenly realised it had been ages since we’d sat like this – just her and me. Lil Sis has always been very possessive over my time, and still is to this day.
I’ve always been conscious that Big Sis doesn’t always get her fair share of my time, which – for the most part – she’s totally fine with. She’s naturally more independent, and is very understanding about the fact that Lil Sis often needs me more than she does.
But I always try to look very carefully for the signs that she needs some ‘Mummy time’, and this was one of them.
So we cuddled up on the bed and took turns to read the book. I won’t spoil the story, but can reveal that Imaginary Fred is a lovely tale about finding friendship exactly when you need it, and how – if you believe in something strongly enough – your most heartfelt wishes can come true.
After we finished we sat chatting. ‘Have you ever had an imaginary friend?’ I asked. ‘Yes!’ she replied. ‘His name is Mr Nobody, and he’s the one that does all the naughty things around the house.’
‘Ah,’ I replied. ‘So when I ask who’s left the milk out, and you and Lil Sis both say no, and I say ‘it must have been Mr Nobody’, it really WAS Mr Nobody?!’ ‘Yep.’
She then proceeded to tell me all about the night when she’d woken to find friendly alien creatures standing next to the bed. She followed them into my room and over to the wardrobe, where they gestured for her to climb inside to visit their world. ‘I looked back to say goodbye,’ she told me, ‘but when I turned back around they were gone!’
I could literally see her eyes widen as her mind considered all the wild and wonderful possibilities – just as Imaginary Fred had in the book. It reminded me how important it was to encourage children to stretch and grow their imaginations.
‘Mummy,’ Big Sis said, giving me a hug, ‘this has been the best afternoon EVER!’ ‘It’s been ages since we read a book together, hasn’t it?’ I replied. ‘We definitely need to do this again soon.’
Thanks Imaginary Fred, for cheering up a poorly girl, and giving us some long overdue mum and daughter time.
Fancy getting your own copy of Imaginary Fred and FIVE other fabulous Harper Collins’ picture books? I’m giving this brilliant bundle, including:
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas
• Three Little Monkeys (read more about this delightful tale HERE)
• Imaginary Fred
• The Midnight Gang
• The Incredible Book Eating Boy
To enter, simply follow the Rafflecopter prompts, below. Good luck! e: 9/12/16