Written and Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Aladdin Paperbacks, 2001
Ted blew into my house one Saturday morning.
The plot in a nutshell: A boy and his imaginary friend have fun together.
The main character is a boy whose father is busy and distracted. Ted, an imaginary pink creature with long ears and a big grin comes into the boy’s life and the two of them play together, having a wonderful time. When the boy is planning to go to the movies with his dad, Ted suggests giving him a shave and haircut first, which results in the boy’s father taking him to a proper barber to fix the damage done by Ted. They paint pictures on the wall to try to show Dad that Ted is real, but Dad just gets angry and doesn’t even look at them. Remembering that Dad likes to swim, they fill the house with water, but Dad is furious and forbids the boy to play with Ted anymore. The boy runs away to find Ted at the playground and learns that Ted was once his father’s imaginary friend, too. When Dad shows up, Ted helps the boy find a toy his father had lost when he was young and then his father can see Ted, too. They all go home to play together.
Author/illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi is a major advocate of imagination and this book showcases the importance he places on it. The boy in this book is never named, which is a subtle little detail that allows the reader to even imagine more about his character. I was not expecting the ending, in which the boy’s father had known Ted when he was a boy. It allows him to change and grow in response to the memory of his own imagination, which will hopefully spur some parents reading the book to give in to their imaginations a little bit more. Mr. DiTerlizzi dedicates the book to his parents, who clearly encouraged him to dream and play.
Of course, in a book about an imaginary friend, the artwork plays a large role in showing the reader what is going on. The illustrations here are detailed and colorful, full of whimsy and fun, but also grounded in reality in the surroundings, which makes Ted seem even more impressive in comparison. Ted himself is a delight, with his pudgy tummy and floppy ears. When I presented my copy to the author for him to sign, he seemed genuinely surprised at my choice of the book. He was one of the co-moderators of the Inspiration Day event and currently has his own exhibit showcased in the Norman Rockwell Museum, entitled Never Abandon Imagination, which is what he wrote in my copy of Ted. Trust me, sir, that is advice I will always follow.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that imagination is an important part of a full life, no matter how old you are.