Oleg and Emma have started creating an imaginary friend, after their real friend Sarah had moved away from their area, but what they didn’t expect was for that imaginary person to suddenly appear in their classroom one morning. Oleg had created Sebastian Cole when writing an essay for the class’s supply teacher Mr Clay, so where did the ‘real’ Sebastian come from and why does he not understand about basic things such as pizza? Added to this there are other strange things taking place in their town. Firstly a goat takes to wandering around the school and then a whole troupe of Snowmen (actually Snow women) start walking around the streets. To top it all there are people wearing crow masks who say they are from the Institute of Unreality and they want to destroy Sebastian as he should not exist. The question is whether Oleg and Emma can save their new friend and if they can stop all of these weird events and also save their Christmas celebrations?
This is a lovely story told on several levels. Whilst it has the magical and mysterious group of main events there are also underlying themes centred on the children, their families and even some of their teachers. Oleg’s Polish grandma had been a writer but can no longer finish any of her stories, Oleg’s dad is unemployed and spends most of his time sleeping and Emma’s mum is in a dead end job that she really dislikes. The author shows us the importance of family and of friendship and how they can help us overcome many of the problems we find in life. He lets us know that working together can have a tremendous impact and that we have the ability to change our futures if we want to. One of the background stories centres around the animosity between two of the teachers and it is only at the end that we discover the bullying that had taken place by one of them when they had been in school together; a reminder that our behaviour can have a lasting impact on both the victim and the perpetrator. This is a great read
that may well become a standard.