Staff Picks Book Review - Divine Providence through a Child’s Drawing: On Fateful Meetings in Dan Santat’s Caldecott Winning Picture Book

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend wasn’t Dan Santat’s literary debut, but it was the book that made him a kid lit superstar. The New York Times bestselling author and illustrator received the Caldecott medal for Beekle at the 2015 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Dedicated to his oldest son, Alek, Santat has described the book as a metaphor for awaiting the birth of his first child. As a matter of fact, Beekle’s name comes from the way Alek would pronounce the word “bicycle” as a toddler.

Our story begins on an island where all imaginary friends are born, each of them eagerly waiting to be imagined by a real child and given a name. One creature on this island stands in stark contrast with the others: a small, colorless blob with a gold crown on its head.

According to Santat, Beekle believes himself to be “so strange looking that no one can really imagine him”. He’s worried about making a friend so, rather than waiting to be imagined, he builds a little boat and leaves the island in search of a child.

Once in the real world, Beekle struggles to find his kindred spirit. In all of creation, is there no one like him?

Just when he begins to lose hope, our hero catches a glimpse of something familiar, another imaginary friend! The fantastical creature leads Beekle to a vibrant playground bubbling with whimsy and imagination. Right away, Beekle senses something special about this particular place.

Santat’s vividly illustrated picture book is a remarkable tale about fateful meetings and the courage required to live one’s dream. Beekle dares to shape his own destiny, and the rest is serendipity.

If you’re interested in meeting Dan Santat, join us September 23rd for a Junior Lit Chat with the author. Register for Jax Book Fest today to secure your seat!

Check out these other titles from Dan Santat:

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

Dan's always been a good kid. The kind of kid who listens to his teachers, helps his mom with grocery shopping, and stays out of trouble. But being a good kid doesn't stop him from being bullied and feeling like he's invisible, which is why Dan has low expectations when his parents send him on a class trip to Europe. At first, he's right. He's stuck with the same girls from his middle school who love to make fun of him, and he doesn't know why his teacher insisted he come on this trip. But as he travels through France, Germany, Switzerland, and England, a series of first experiences begin to change him; first Fanta, first fondue, first time stealing a bike from German punk rockers, and first love.

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat

After falling off the wall, Humpty Dumpty is very afraid of climbing up again, but is determined not to let fear stop him from being close to the birds.



The Guild of Geniuses by Dan Santat

Mr. Pip the monkey gets depressed because he does not think the gift he has for his friend Frederick Lipton, the famous actor, is special enough.



The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat produced with co-author and illustrator Mo Willems

There are only three cookies and four hungry friends to share them with. This is not good. This is not equal!



Endlessly Ever After: Pick Your Path to Countless Fairy Tale Endings! written by Laurel Snyder and illustrated by Dan Santat

In this rhyming mash-up of many fairy tales, the reader is invited to follow Rosie down the many possible paths which may lead to a sleeping maiden, a hungry wolf, a girl locked in a tower, or a goose that lays golden eggs, but with some luck, and some smart choices, Rosie may save herself and her fellow fairy tale characters.

The Princess and the Pit Stop written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by Dan Santat

Once upon a time there was a Princess who made a pit-stop. While the Birds and Beasts changed her tires, her Fairy Godmother told her she was in last place! With just one lap left! She might as well give up! Give up? Not this princess! Instead, she hit the gas! Joined Her Royal Highness in the driver's seat for a mad dash to the finish in this exciting ode to auto racing. With appearances by fairy tale favorites including the Tortoise and the Hare, the Frog Prince, and all of the Wicked Witches, this rollicking mash-up of race cars and royalty is a true celebration of both girl power and horsepower.

Reader Mail