In The Magical Fantastical Fridge, written by Harlan Coben and illustrated by Leah Tinari, a young boy named Walden finds himself on an adventure within the pictures, drawings, takeout menus, and invitations on his family’s refrigerator. Walden is initially bored as his mother asks him to set the table for their weekly dinner with his extended family. “I don’t set boring tables in boring houses,” Walden says to his mother, “I need ADVENTURE!”
And he finds his adventure as he fights off a crayon monster with a slice of pizza, transforms into a bite of fried chicken, travels in time to see his grandparents years before he was born, and jumps into an aquarium tank. Coben’s picture book shows the many worlds available to explore just from the collage on a family fridge – each photo, ticket, and coloring page offers a new experience and a new sense of wonder.
However, as Walden becomes further trapped in the fridge – borrowing a pirate’s sword, hiding behind the bowling pins on a birthday party invitation – he begins to miss his family and their weekly routines, spending time all together. “The refrigerator is fun, but I really miss my family,” Walden reflects, watching his parents, grandparents, sister and cousins as they cheer at the televised football game.
Coben, a bestselling author of adult thriller novels, writes Walden’s perspective with a childlike wonder and charm. Tinari’s illustrations are both detailed and true-to-life while staying imaginative in the theme of the book – her typography and illustrations of water are particularly striking. The Magical Fantastical Fridge is a great read for parents and children alike, with good read-aloud potential! It’s an opportunity for families to look at their own “fridge adventures” and see what artifacts of exploration they have available in their own homes.