Author & Illustrator: Dan Santat
Age Level: 4 – 8 years
Publishers: Little, Brown and Company
What a heartwarming story! The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is a book which transcends childhood. Adults readers will be reminded of long forgotten imaginary friends from their childhood.
Far, far away, in the land where imaginary friends are created, a new friend is born. Nameless he may be but he knows his turn will come. And there he waits to be transported to the real world when his very own real child imagines him.
Waiting can be difficult, even if there are really good reasons for the real child to be busy. Taking matters into his own hands the imaginary friend does the unimaginable—he jumps on a boat and sails through the scary unknown to meet his real friend.
The real world is not at all what he imagined it to be—people are too busy or tired to enjoy themselves. Lost amidst all those serious dark suits, our imaginary friend is dejected. Where can his friend be? As he stands a little dejected, he spots a bright colorful tail—that can only be a fellow imaginary friend from the island! Feeling hopeful, he follows the colorful tail to a playground. Yes! This is the place where children and their imaginary friends play together…his friend has to be here too!
The imaginary friend climbs high on a tree to look out for his child but doesn’t see anyone heading towards him. Soon he is left all alone as the other children leave the playground. Just as he is enveloped by sadness he hears a little girl call out to him.
The illustrations are brilliant and our favorite were the pages within the pages showing how the two friends meet—the initial shyness, the giggles, and then when Beekle is handed his name—this was the best part of the book. Most of the questions from the children in our group were about how the two felt, and why they were shy. This is depicted so well in ‘Alice’s’ drawings! The kids could relate to being shy when meeting other kids and they gravitated to this page at the end of our reading.
The younger kids enjoyed the illustrations of the imaginary friends—features like the drawings and patterns on the octopus, the eye and arms on the drum fascinated them endlessly but the older kids made the connection about how the little girl imagined her friend and tells the story with her drawings.
The Adventures of Beekle won the 2015 Caldecott Medal and is slated to be adapted into a movie by Dreamworks.
Here is a link to a read aloud on youtube: