Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Little, Brown, and Company

Rating: 5 stars

The Caldecott (and Newbery) awards were announced when we were on vacation back in early February. I checked my phone like crazy to see which books (and their authors and illustrators) won... I'm not the only one who does this, right?!

In case you are more laid-back in your approach to children's literature, I'll fill you in: Here's the winner. Right here. Beekle. And it was a shocker! No one saw it coming. The experts thought Draw! or The Farmer and the Clown or Bad Bye, Good Bye or Three Bears in a Boat. But Beekle? It was a surprise win.

But it's worthy for sure. It took me some months to get my hands on it, because I often think that Caldecott winners have gorgeous art, but their appeal to kids is limited, or the story is just so-so. This year, that's not the case.

Here, they lived and played,
eagerly waiting to be imagined by a real child.
Beekle is an imaginary friend (if you see the title, he and his human believe he's unimaginary, or real) who lives in the imaginary world where imaginary friends live before their humans imagine them and unite with them. While all the other monsters and funny-looking whatevers get beamed up and zipped over to the real world, Beekle remains.

Until he decides to do something about all the waiting and waiting. He "did the unimaginable" and sailed to the real world. (You'll love how dull and drab the real world is compared to the amazingly colorful and exciting unimaginary world. I love, and my kids love, how Beekle is confused why "no kids were eating cake"--just grown-ups. Ha!)

Beekle looks and looks for his friend and climbs up a beautiful big tree to get a better view, but...still can't find the friend. Suddenly, below, a girl starts waving at him. They found each other!

The girl and imaginary friend are two peas in a pod. They laugh at the same jokes no one else gets, they made each other feel confident and comfortable. The book ends with: "Together, they did the unimaginable."
He climbed to the top of the tree and looked out,
wishing and hoping his friend would come.

Isn't the unimaginable possible with the support of one really great friend? I think so.

At the very least, add "Must check out Beekle immediately" to your long end-of-the-year to do list. Or just buy it for your kids or for the next birthday your kid attends. You might end up tucking it away because you just can't part the sweet, bold Beekle.

P.S. This book is SO similar to another recently released book, Marilyn's Monster, that I can't get over it. (Marilyn and her monster also find each other in a tree!) This is such a fun example of how two people could have the same idea, pursue it, and get it published around the same time--it has happened more than once. But if you've read both please comment so I don't feel like I'm the only one on earth chuckling at the coincidence!

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