Review Blog

Feb 23 2015

The adventures of Beekle the unimaginary friend by Dan Santat

cover image

Little, Brown, 2014. ISBN 9780316199988
Highly recommended for readers from 4-7 years. Caldecott Picture Book Winner 2015. Dan Santat's award winning picture book told in the third person, explores the world from the imaginary friends point of view. He introduces a small creature sadly waiting on the island of unimaginary friends, wanting  'to be picked by a child and given a special name.' He watches as other creatures are beamed away into the starry night sky, off to enjoy a world of friendship and adventure.
With courage and determination, Beekle sets sail to find his real friend. He crosses the deep green ocean in a tiny boat, encountering a huge, colourful sea serpent and a giant whale on his journey. When he lands in the real world, he is unhappy. His little, chubby white body and golden crown, stand out in the gray and sepia-toned adult spaces, the restaurant and subway train where everything is both distant and daunting. 'No kids were eating cake. No one stopped to hear the music.'
When all seems lost, Alice a small girl with large spectacles appears, she's waving a hand-drawn picture of him perched high up in a tree filled with star-shaped leaves. He truly is her imaginary friend.
Santat's emotive use of colour stands out in this picture book . The grey tones for the world without friends, brown and orange for the first meeting of his real friend and rainbow hues for the island and sea serpent. Glowing yellow circles light up the cartoon style scenes when Alice names him Beekle. The bright hues of the children's playground lift the narrative as Beekle searches everywhere for his friend.
To win a Caldecott Medal a picture book needs to provide the young reader with a uniquely visual and emotional experience that respects their understandings and abilities. The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is distinctive and engaging, share this with a young child or a junior primary class.
Rhyllis Bignell

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