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Skeleton Keys

Skeleton Keys: The Unimaginary Friend 1

Published: 5 Sep 2019

Paperback / softback, 256 pages

Recommended for age 7+ and 9+

By Guy Bass

Illustrated by Pete Williamson

Published by Little Tiger Press Group

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RRP £6.99
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Greetings! My name is Skeleton Keys and these fantabulant fingers of mine can open doors to hidden worlds... Join me for the curious tale of Ben Bunsen, whose only friend is a figment of his imagination ... until now.

Ben can't believe it when his imaginary friend the Gorblimey becomes unimaginary. The Gorblimey is loyal and kind ... and real! But Skeleton Keys is far from convinced by the Gorblimey's friendly ways.

He's got the twitch, which is (almost) never wrong, and it's telling him the Gorblimey is dangerous and needs banishing to the endless void of Oblivion. As Ben battles to save his new friend, the Gorblimey is soon the least of Skeleton Keys' worries. It seems that there's more than one unimaginary in town.

And this one is out for revenge...
This title features in our The Reading Journey selection.

Tagged Halloween

The Skeleton Keys series

Skeleton Keys: The wild Imaginings of Stanley Strange
Skeleton Keys: The Haunting of Luna Moon : 2
Skeleton Keys: The Legend of Gap-tooth Jack : 3

Reviewed by Lucy Timmons

Skeleton Keys : The Unimaginary Friend is brilliant! This book has been an absolute joy to read: a swashbuckling, gothic, fantasy with a dash of horror. Quite frankly, this ‘ahem’ year old did need to check behind her back while reading at points. It was fabulous.

Skeleton Keys is the main character in this cleverly named novel. Each of his fingers is a key to somewhere, for example, ‘the Key to a Quick Getaway’ which, alone, had my six-year-old co reader and I hooked from the beginning. As did the ‘IFs’, Imaginary Friends, who provide the impetus for each adventurous stage of the plot.

Since reading, imaginary friends have been fully welcomed back into our family home and spoken about with pride and humour. Guy Bass’ coinage verbalised by SK (Skeleton Keys) is delightfully reminiscent of literary greats as is his turn of phrase which regularly had us doubled over in giggles; not to mention the adventurous nature and effortless comedy of the storytelling.

On a serious note, however, this is a story about loneliness, friendship, loyalty and courage. Any reader who has felt abandoned, misplaced or misunderstood would resonate with the protagonist Ben, a lonely ten-year-old who is regularly relocated by his parents. At the beginning of the book, he finds himself in a coastal town with a Tim Burtonesque landscape. He faces the challenges many children and young people face, and the plot provides a fantastical narrative path reminding the reader of the power of make-believe as a way to make sense of the challenges in the world.

This book is a gift to any classroom. Great fun for the storyteller in all of us: language play, comedy, characterisation and tension-building all present and correct to play with. But also to pay homage to, and explore the relationships with, all the imaginary friends, still hopefully taking pride of place in all our classrooms.

Lucy Timmons is a professionally trained actress and Executive Head teacher based in South East London. Her keen passion is the use of 'Rehearsal Room Pedagogy' as both a medium to create a constructivist approach to learning for children and professionals.

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