Scribbly: A Real Imaginary Friend Tale

Imaginary friends are real friends.

When Maude moves to a new town, everything feels…okay. Things would feel just right if only she had a friend.


So, Maude draws a blue puppy and names him Scribbly.

He plays catch, takes naps, but most importantly, Scribbly teaches Maude the importance of staying true to herself and gives her the courage to meet new friends—both human and four-legged.

This heartfelt picture book from Ged Adamson, the creator of Shark Dog! and Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed) is perfect for fans of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat, and The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld.

Published June 22, HarperCollins Children’s Books.


The Horn Book Inc.

There’s plenty to do when a girl and her mother move to a new town, but after the novelty wears off, without a friend things get boring fast. Enter Scribbly, an imaginary stick dog drawn by our self-sufficient protagonist. “Scribbly was the bestest friend anyone could ask for.” When the girl is invited to a birthday party where she doesn’t know anyone, her mother tells her to leave Scribbly at home, but she “really really needed him.” Scribbly not only attends but is the life of the party, nibbling cake, doing backflips, and befriending everyone. In short, he makes “being the new kid much easier.” Pencil and watercolor illustrations combine the kid-art representation of Scribbly with the more realistic goings on. Astute readers may pick up on the mother’s facial expressions and develop a more nuanced interpretation of the girl’s reliance on the imaginary friend to assuage anxiety and doubt. When she adopts a real dog from a shelter, the girl bridges the gap between the imaginary and real worlds and boosts her self-confidence. Scribbly is still around, but she’s no longer dependent on him. Dogs, whether real or imagined, are a girl’s best friend in this book that may soothe social anxieties over being the new kid. JULIE HAKIM AZZAM.


Publishers Weekly

Maude, the dark-haired, pale pink–skinned narrator of Adamson’s picture book, is the new kid in town. Addressing the lack of a playmate, creative Maude draws a dog in indigo crayon and names him Scribbly; he soon becomes Maude’s constant companion. When brown-skinned neighbor Louie invites Maude to his birthday party, Mom advises Maude to leave Scribbly at home. But when Maude “really, really needed him,” Scribbly saves the day. In a refreshingly affirmative spread, Mom focuses on Maude’s qualities over Scribbly’s existence: “You taught Scribbly how to dance,/ how to draw,/ and how to do magic./ Scribbly is special and fun because YOU ARE.” Adamson’s pencil and watercolor art has a doodled—“kind of… scribbly”—quality, with an inclusive cast of cartoonish characters in a subdued palette. Readers and guardians alike will appreciate the charming canine friendship and compassionate parenting. Ages 4–8. (June)


What would you do if you didn’t have any friends?

In this sweet story, Maude and Mom move to a big city with lots of fun things to do and see, but there’s one thing missing: a friend. Rather than feel sad, Maude gets to work. A little scribble here, a blue line there, and voilà—a dog named Scribbly to be a companion. Mom thinks Maude is too old for an imaginary dog, but Scribbly is the best friend Maude needs. They do everything together: nap, play fetch, and even have tea parties. When Maude is invited to neighbor Louie’s birthday party, nerves set in. Fearful of being the new kid all alone, Maude brings Scribbly along to help break the ice, and soon all the kids want to play with Scribbly. With help from Mom, Maude realizes it wasn’t Scribbly that was the hit of the party but instead Maude’s own self. Writing his story from Maude’s perspective, Adamson uses his signature warm watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork to illustrate it. Created from just a simple, blue dog outline, Scribbly expresses as much emotion, character, and heart as all the fully illustrated characters. Readers will feel all the emotions associated with trying to make new friends and learn that letting people see how unique and special you are is as rewarding as it is scary. Maude and Mom have pale skin and dark hair; Louie presents Black, and his party guests are somewhat racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In a word: “scribbnificent.” (Picture book. 4-7)

School and Library Journal

K-Gr 2–After moving to a new home in the city with her mother, a creative young girl draws a simple, life-sized dog named “Scribbly” to become her imaginary friend. Feeling lonely and awkward about making new friends, Maude relies more and more on Scribbly’s company, even at a neighbor’s birthday party. Between the playful scenes, there is a delicate lesson about building self-worth to be found in Maude’s inability to let the idea of Scribbly go. Maude’s newfound friends kindly accept Scribbly as a reassuring presence for Maude, but Maude’s mother gently teaches her daughter that Scribbly merely reflects the very best of what Maude already possesses and to believe in her own worth and talents, as her new friends already do. True to the sweet nature of the story and “doodle-happy” aspects of Maude’s joyful, if sometimes timid, personality, Adamson’s pencil and watercolor illustrations express sketch-like qualities and easy, flowing angles in the figures. Thinly outlined features and uncluttered scenes allow elementary readers’ eyes to center on Maude’s relationships and interactions. VERDICT A generous reminder of the values of understanding, self-confidence, and support for what others personally need as a comfort during trying times.–Rachel Mulligan, Westampton, NJ

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Maude is excited about all the fresh things to experience after she moves to a new town, but her loneliness propels her to draw an imaginary dog named Scribbly and take him with her wherever she goes. When she’s invited to a birthday party, Maude tries to go alone initially but can’t let go of her old friend, and Scribbly is a big hit with everyone at the party. Though Maude attributes her popularity to Scribbly, Mom assures her that it’s really Maude’s own positive traits the kids liked, and the two go out and get a real dog from the shelter to join Scribbly. The message isn’t unsubtle, but the friendship, in Maude’s innocent narrative, is affectionate and enviable. The art is playful, with Maude and her agemates being significantly shorter than the adults with big heads and small limbs and Scribbly a linework creation right out of a child’s drawing; the watercolor and pencil art depicts the characters in vibrant colors and backgrounds in soothing pastels. Kids expecting a situation where they’ll be forced to socialize with a new group will relate to Maude’s predicament, and it’s sweet that Maude gets to keep her imaginary buddy instead of needing to move on from him when the new dog enters the scene.  NB


When Maude and her mother move to a new town, they enjoy its amazing sights and activities, but something is missing. Longing for a companion, Maude draws a picture of a smiling blue dog. And Scribbly, “the bestest friend anyone could ask for,” comes to life. She plays with him every day, enjoying his company. Invited to a neighbor child’s birthday party, Maude feels nervous, but with Scribbly beside her, she quickly makes new friends. And when Mom takes her to an animal shelter to choose a dog, no one is more excited than Scribbly. That night, both dogs curl up on Maude’s bed to sleep, and she sums up her happiness: “scribbnificent!” While a number of picture books involve children’s imaginary friends, resourceful Maude knows what she needs and creates the perfect companion for herself. The double-page spread showcasing her realistically childlike drawing of Scribbly is a standout. Working with pencil and watercolors, Adamson offers appealing scenes that work seamlessly with the precisely worded text to reveal the characters’ emotions. A sunny, satisfying picture book. — Carolyn Phelan


Ged Adamson

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