Real to Me (Hardcover)

Real to Me By Minh Lê, Raissa Figueroa (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Minh Lê, Raissa Figueroa (Illustrator)
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May/June 2023 Kids Indie Next List

Real to Me perfectly captures the joy and magic of friendship, the complicated feelings when friendship is lost, and the delight and wonder in discovering new friends. This book will stay in my heart forever, it is a modern classic!”
— Christine Bollow, Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, DC


An acclaimed author and a Coretta Scott King Honoree pair up for this tender story about friendship and accepting change. Two best friends (one of whom is imaginary) are inseparable until the day when one of them unexpectedly disappears.

Others tried to tell me that she wasn’t real, that she was just imaginary.

But what did they know? She was real to me.
Then one morning... she was gone.

What do you do when your imaginary friend goes away? Did you dream up the entire friendship? Maybe... But you miss her laugh, her comfort, and her silly mischief. It all feels so real... you couldn't have just imagined those things, right? 

Lush illustrations pair with touching text in this gentle picture book that illuminates the sweetness of first friendship, the sadness when it's lost, and the beauty in discovering new friends are just around the corner.

About the Author

Minh Lê is the author of several children's books including Drawn Together, which won the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and Lift which was an Eisner Award Nominee. His other books include Let Me Finish!, The Perfect Seat, and The Blur. Minh has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. He currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife and kids. Visit him online at or on Instagram and Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

Raissa Figueroa is the illustrator of several picture books, including We Wait for the Sun, which received a Coretta Scott King Honor, as well as four starred reviews. She also illustrated Oona, Princess Unlimited, Sophie and the Little Star, and The More the Merrier. She loves taking in the early morning light while out on walks with her dog, Ghost, and letting her mind meander off to fantastical new places. Visit her online at

Praise For…

★ "Any youngster who has felt the pain of putting away childish things will find this an emotionally palpable, thoughtful story.—The Bulletin, starred review

"Figueroa’s lush, electric, pulsating hues and colors bring the worldbuilding to life....the robust storytelling throughout will prove the book’s greatest lure." —Kirkus Reviews

"An insightful and delightful take on the imaginary-friend concept, while highlighting what it means to have—and be—a real friend." —Booklist

"This sweet story gently conveys the inevitable pains of changing relationships." —School Library Journal

“To Lê’s simply told, heartfelt reflection on childhood bonds, Figueroa adds two rich, unexpected dimensions: a dramatic, luminous visual universe, and a narrative twist likely to tweak readers’ initial assumptions about the imaginary.” —Publishers Weekly

"[A] heartwarming story." —The Horn Book
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593377499
ISBN-10: 0593377494
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 40
Language: English