A New Imaginary Friend

Posted by in Book Review

The world of children is full of imaginary friends. Both of my teenage daughters had imaginary friends when they were young. These friends kept them company when they were lonely and took the fall for their misbehavior. The first book I chose for my inaugural review features an endearing imaginary friend.

Book Summary

Dan Santat’s new picturebook, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, is truly magical. Beekle is a little marshmallow-looking creature who wears a gold crown. He lives on an island where imaginary friends are created. Once they are imagined by a child, they go to live in the real world. Beekle waits in hope for his turn to be imagined and named, but time and time again a child fails to imagine him. Finally, he does the unimaginable; he sets off in a little boat to sail to the real world in search of a friend. After looking high and low, Beekle finally meets Alice, a little girl who needs him just as much as he needs her.

Book Review

Beekle is a charming character, one that readers will cheer for as he embarks upon his quest for a friend. This book embodies a number of deep themes: imagination, courage, and friendship, to name just a few. The mixed-media illustrations (pencil, crayon, watercolor, ink, and Adobe Photoshop) are saturated with color and printed on thick paper. The pictures are brimming with details that extend and enrich the story. This is a rare work of art, one that possesses a beating heart and a soul filled with hope. 

Book Trailer

Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers created a book trailer for Beekle posted on YouTube. The book trailer is set to the song “Life and Death” from the original television soundtrack to Lost: Season 1. The haunting music is composed by Michael Giacchino; his song gives me chills each time I view the trailer.

Book Partners

Beekle joins other favorite stories featuring imaginary friends: Dotty, by Erica S. Perl (illustrated by Julia Denos); Emma Kate, by Patricia Polacco; Jessica, by Kevin Henkes; and No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora. These books are pinned to my Pinterest board titled: “Picturebooks: Imaginary Friends.”

Book Pair

Pair The Adventures of Beekle with Where the Wild Things Are. Beekle sails from the imaginary world to the real world where he finds a real child. Conversely, Max sails from the real world to the imaginary world where he finds imaginary creatures. Readers could compare and contrast the characters’ journeys.

Dan Santat

Dan Santat maintains an extensive website. He is the illustrator of many popular picturebooks, such as: Carnivores, by Aaron Reynolds; Crankenstein, by Samantha Berger; and The Three Ninja Pigs, by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Santat is the author and the illustrator of the graphic novel: Sidekicks. Minh Le interviewed Santat for BookRiot on April 9, 2014. The interview offers a great deal of background information about Beekle’s story.