Review: 'Skeleton Keys: The Unimaginary Friend'

Book Title: Skeleton Keys: The Unimaginary Friend (available here)

Author: Guy Bass

Illustrator: Pete Williamson

Publisher: Stripes Books

Publication Date: September 2019

Most Suitable For: Years 3-5

Ben Bunsen is going to be 10 years old. He has moved more times than he cares to think about and friends are scarce. No wonder, then, that Ben’s best friend is imaginary. Following a disastrous birthday party, Ben’s companion does the unthinkable and becomes real, prompting a visit from the mysterious and somewhat unnerving Skeleton Keys. Is Ben’s new friend, the Gorblimey, as dangerous as Skeleton Keys suggests? Who has written a mysterious message on Ben’s bedroom wall and what does it mean? Has Ben’s dad got a secret of his own? As the story unfolds, Ben is forced to confront the past and other Imaginaries make their presence known, unleashing all kinds of trouble. Friendships are tested on the way to finding the truth in this fantastical adventure.

This is the first in the series of Skeleton Keys written by award-winning author and illustrator, Guy Bass (author of Stitch Head). There’s wonderful characterisation in the story and readers will love the Gothic, gentlemanly manner of Skeleton Keys with his twitch that (almost) never lets him down. Children and parents alike will love the humour that runs throughout this book, evident through the wonderful dialogue between characters and the visual jokes that verge on the slapstick. The inventive story is brought to life by Pete Williamson’s enjoyable illustrations which are worth lingering over.

This story will leave young readers craving more. Where will Skeleton Keys go next and what trouble will he find? It’s perfect for lower KS2 who want a longer chaptered book that will capture their imagination. Don’t be surprised if young readers start creating their own adventures containing imaginary friends!


You can order Skeleton Keys online or from your local bookshop or library.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.

Where next? > Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub

> Browse our Topic Booklists

> View our printable year group booklists.

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