Aldo is the Harvey-esque imaginary best friend to a little girl. As is often the case with John Burningham a lot of the story is told through the illustrations rather than the text. We learn that she is bullied, her parents argue and that above all she is very lonely. But whenever she is at her darkest Aldo comes to whisk her off on an adventure: playing on the swings, ice skating, tightrope walking across the city at night…or simply to read her a bedtime story when she can’t sleep.
The heroine is never named and I’m only guessing that she’s a she because she wears a skirt (if the main character is actually a cross dressing boy then Burningham gets even more points!) Her gender is not relevant to the story which, as I’ve said, is often my favourite heroine.
I’ll have to wait a few years to see if my son warms to Aldo but I suspect that it is a story that appeals more to adults then children – which is no bad thing, we’re the ones spending our evenings reading them aloud. I also like that it is slightly maudlin, I think that children shouldn’t just read hyperactive fun books (although they definitely have their place.) And it has a wonderful message: that if you have imagination you will never be alone because “Aldo will always be there.”
Heroine rating 4/5