Who Framed Klaris Cliff? by Nikki Sheehan

Moontrug had been noticing the glowing reviews and gushing comments surrounding Nikki Sheehan’s Who Framed Klaris Cliff? and so on a recent book-buying spree, she grabbed a copy. And from the first few pages she could see what all the hype was about…

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People used to call them ‘friends’ and said how they were good for your brain. And then a day came when all that changed… When they became the enemy. Now, anyone found harbouring a rogue imaginary person is in for the COSH – an operation that fries your imagination and zaps whatever’s in there, out of existence. That’s why I wish Klaris Cliff had never shown up and why I know that proving her innocence is that last hope I have of saving myself.

The story is told by Joseph, an ordinary, popular boy who loves playing video games and hanging around with his best friend, Rocky. He’s the last person you’d expect to have an imaginary friend, so when Klaris shows up, Joseph’s world is turned upside down. Sheehan draws on the imaginary friend concept in a totally original, subtle and almost unnerving way, and Joseph’s exasperation at having to listen to Klaris is brilliantly done: ‘I breathed deeply then spoke to the air in a thin whisper. “Happy now? Is that what you wanted? Why don’t you just go back to Flea and stop ruining my life!”‘

 

But a world without imagination, as Joseph comes to realise, holds terrifying consequences: ‘I’d never be able to imagine myself wing-walking on a biplane. Or playing basketball on the moon. Or diving with sharks.’ And so Joseph embarks on a journey to defend the one person he was adamant didn’t exist… The book is filled with engaging characters – take the gorgeous (and well-named) Flea who harbours his imaginary friend so willingly and is adorable in his vulnerability when faced with bully Charlie, who asks Flea to empty his pockets: ‘These shorts don’t have pockets, which is quite unusual. Most of my trousers do. Some have them at the sides and the back.’ Or Flea’s sister, Pooh: ‘A hairpin? Perhaps you’d like a piece of whale bone from my corset as well? What century do you think this is?’ But set against their childlike innocence you have characters like Mr Jones, the RIPS co-ordinator, a Gradgrindian meanie out to COSH all imaginary friends. There was a glimpse of Philip Pullman’s Gobblers in Mr Jones, and Joseph and Flea, like Lyra and Roger, must stand up to the adult world to fight for what they believe in.

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Who Framed Klaris Cliff? is a brilliantly original read for 10+ years. It boasts a truly powerful ending and throughout the story, Sheehan champions one of the most important things in life: the imagination. As Einstein once said:  ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’ Moontrug can’t wait to see what Nikki Sheehan writes next and in the meantime, you can find her book up on Moontrug’s Altocumulus Tower