Title: THE REAL FRIEND
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Word Count: 54,000
Samby is the best imaginary friend that a little boy could ever want. Together, Samby and his real friend Ricky guard castles, ride elephants, and find buried treasures. But just when Ricky needs Samby more than ever—the night before the family moves across the country—Ricky’s father loses his temper and tells Ricky that Samby isn't real. When Samby wakes up after this heartbreaking news, left behind in the empty house, he has already started to fade away, in danger of becoming a Grayface—a forgotten imaginary friend who cannot be seen or believed in by anyone.
Samby is saved by a white rabbit named Orville, who finds him and takes him to Evershine, the magical realm of all things imaginary. In Evershine Samby meets an array of colorful friends: Ada the fearless adventurer, Francis the cantankerous teddy bear, Prince Charlie the wannabe dragon hunter, and many more. Samby learns that he can become a Brilliant like Orville (an imaginary friend who will never fade away) by finding someone who has outgrown their imagination and convincing them to believe again. Helped by his friends and pursued by bitter Grayfaces who want nothing more than to see him give up, Samby resolves to find Ricky and become his friend again, no matter what it takes.
The first day of my life was cold and rainy, and Ricky was sick in bed. I later learned that he was three years old at the time, but right then I had no thoughts besides the shape of his pink face and his big eyes staring at me.
Ricky imagined me with mossy green hair and fuzzy blue skin, wrapped up in a fiery red tunic, and there I was. I had twice as many toes as him and half as many teeth.
“Samby,” Ricky said.
I pointed at myself, and he nodded.
Ricky clapped his hands, giggling. I clapped mine and mimicked his laugh.
He waved for me to come closer. I took my first few steps, but my feet weren’t used to the slick wooden floor. I slipped and knocked into a cup of juice on the night table.
The plastic cup clattered to the floor as purple juice splattered everywhere. Ricky’s eyes got big, and I heard footsteps for the first time.
“Ricky,” a pretty woman scolded him, as she hurried into the room, “didn’t Mommy say to be careful?” She scowled and pulled a towel off the dresser.
“Sorry, Mommy,” Ricky said. “It wasn’t me... it was Samby.”
“Samby?” Mommy repeated. She looked around.
I thought she might like me better if I helped clean up, so I dropped to my knees and tried to slurp up the mess. It didn’t work, though—my tongue slid through the juice like it was nothing more than mist.