pingoPingo is one of the ARCs (Advanced Reviewer Copies) I got my hands on at Book Expo America 2009. I met Brandon Mull, who was signing Pingo and the newest title in his uber-popular Fablehaven series. Pingo is due out August 5, 2009.

Brandon Mull’s Pingo is, honestly, one of the most delightful picture books I’ve read in a while. It’s charming in the way that Berkeley Breathed’s Pete & Pickles is, a story that doesn’t shy away from approaching subjects like aging and the subtleties of loneliness with young children. Young children can handle it, possibly better than most adults. I love human central characters beyond the age of 12. 

As a child, Chad has an imaginary friend named Pingo, and together they have lots of adventures. As Chad gets older, he’s teased for having an imaginary friend, and one day he decides to give up Pingo altogether. But Pingo isn’t losing Chad without a fight, and he becomes an imaginary enemy. Throughout Chad’s life Pingo is right there to cause trouble until finally, in old age, Chad gives in and agrees to be friends again. They pick up their adventures in exceptionally charming fashion. Brandon Dorman’s illustrations of their imagined adventures together, in childhood and adulthood, are perfectly rendered to make children cheer. This is the stuff read alouds are made of.