The Adventures of Beekle
Adventures of Beekle
Dan Santat
ISBN 9780316199988
Little, Brown, 2014.
2015 Caldecott Medal
4 ½ stars
Keywords: adventures-beekle creativity dan-santat friendship imaginary-friends

The Adventures of Beekle
by Dan Santat

Dan Santat (Sidekicks) provides a clever twist to the idea of a child's relationship with an imaginary friend in this satisfying story of a first friendship.

The unnamed hero, a snowman-looking fellow with limbs and a gold crown, eagerly waits "to be imagined by a real child." Santat pictures him on an island where the rainbow ends, with sunny skies and plenty of other "imaginary" companions, each waiting to be "picked by a child and given a special name." One by one, the others get picked, and the crowned hero remains alone. "So rather than waiting... he did the unimaginable." He takes an overseas journey to "the real world," and lands in New York City. A humorous double-page spread features the hero's eye-view of busy city-dwellers in a series of vignettes: "The real world was a strange place. No kids were eating cake," he notes as two ladies share a chocolate slice. "No one stopped to hear the music," he observes as people rush past an accordionist on a subway platform, "and everyone needed naptime," he thinks as everyone in his subway car travels with eyes closed.

Finally, the stranger sees "something familiar." Attentive readers will connect the blue tail with a fellow island inhabitant, whom the hero follows, eventually leading him right to his child. A dozen comics-style time-lapse images show their awkward overtures ("Neither of them had made a friend before"). Finally, the girl introduces herself as Alice and also names the hero: "Beekle."

Santat's story reminds children that, with friends, they can accomplish "the unimaginable." Heartwarming.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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