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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

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This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one's place in the world.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published April 8, 2014

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Dan Santat

110 books689 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,592 reviews
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.4k followers
February 14, 2021
[Book #17 for my grad school Children's Lit class]
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
March 23, 2017
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is a cute story about an unimaginary friend and his search for a child.

This is a super simple read great for young or new readers with about one hand-written sentence per page. The story is interesting and the illustrations are done with pencil, crayons, paint and more which makes the book extremely vibrant.

It's no wonder this was the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner.

Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,789 reviews2,132 followers
August 6, 2016
Okay, little known fact about me: I read children's picture books. Mostly when I'm at work at the library, but I do read them.

This book, is SPECIAL

Beekle is the story of an imaginary friend who goes off in search of his human child and his adventures along the way.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. And you will too. So to my Goodreads friends who have children, I highly recommend this book. It's a keeper.
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures).
1,524 reviews855 followers
May 25, 2018
Beekle is full of color, humor, and artistic illustrations. It’s a tail featuring what an imaginary friend feels; before he’s imagined. It’s adorable and it encourages children to reach out to someone different, someone new.

As for it being for children. Young kids may miss the subtle connections; between the imaginary world and the real one. It feels more like a picture book for adults who want to reflect on their childhood rather then for children. My son, who is 6, liked it, but wasn’t fully engaged and hasn’t picked it again for me to read at bedtime.

Profile Image for Calista.
3,792 reviews31.2k followers
January 21, 2018
Delighted. Each page and idea delighted and enchanted me. I love this book about Beekle. I think Caldecott really got it right this year.

I love how it starts off in a land of imagination with hyper colors and the stars deliver them to where they need to be. Beekle isn't chosen so they set off to the real world to find someone. This land is gray and brown and not as colorful. I love how he shows all the things adults do are like children. Adults nap on the subway - this tickled me to no end. Any place there are children it is bright and light and full of imagination. Beekle does get found by someone finally.

I loved this so much. I read it to the kids and they loved it too. They laughed and were very engaged with the story. They stopped fidgeting. This is a GEM!
Profile Image for Laura.
1,351 reviews199 followers
August 13, 2016

I know I’ve said this before, but I love stories about imaginary friends. They’ve always captured my attention and imagination because I've never ever had one. All my brothers and sisters had imaginary friends, but nope! Not me. *pouts*

Beekle, an adorable white marshmallow-puff of a little guy with a crown, is an imaginary friend. He lives in a faraway land where imaginary friends dream and wait. Wait and wait to be imagined by boys and girls. But what happens if no one comes for Beekle? What if no one imagines him? Determined to find a friend, Beekle sets off for the real world. Sets off on an adventure brimming with color, courage, and friendship.

This book is a beautiful world of imagination and color. A rainbow of color! Warm yellows. Sea greens. Blue nights. Orange suns. Every color you can imagine. Colors that make the pages soft and then glow and then smile. Pages swimming with whales, octopuses and more. Gorgeous!

My favorite pages were the ones depicting the start of a friendship though. The awkward smiles turning to laughs and comfort were heartwarming and perfect.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is a story of going after what you want. A story of dreams, courage, and huge heart that might have readers setting an extra spot at the dinner table for a new friend or two. :D

Go do the unimaginable!

Recommended read.

p.s. I’m still waiting for my imaginary friend. :)

Profile Image for Kyle.
374 reviews541 followers
January 9, 2016
This children's book is so goddamn adorable. I walked into a heavily populated NYC bookstore, went right up to the counter of the children's section, and announced to the clerk (and the entire store, of course), my intent of purchasing this kid's book as a grown man with no children of his own.

I don't care that people stared or maybe passed judgment on the adult with the five-o'clock-shadow, who was bouncing with eagerness at the prospect of joining in Beekle's adventure.

This is one of the cutest books I've read, and illustrated gorgeously.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,009 reviews104 followers
November 7, 2017
Now I realise that Dan Santat's The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend won the Caldecott Medal, and that judging from the for the most part very positive reviews, many readers do seem to really really love the illustrations (that they are considered expressive, imaginative and even rather magical). However and all that having been said, I for one have not at ALL enjoyed either the illustrations (their Caldecott Medal designation notwithstanding) or the accompanying text, the presented narrative of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Sorry, but for my own aesthetics, Dan Santat's illustrations, while indeed bright and imaginative, are simply not even remotely visually pleasing to and for my eyes, with especially the main character, with especially Beekle, reminding me rather painfully of a marshmallow like Pokemon type of creature (and why he has to be wearing that crown on his head, I will never really understand). And furthermore, as someone who has always had issues with contrast, the fact that Beekle is almost entirely white in colour has made him rather massively difficult to even adequately see and detect at times (for especially in those scenes of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend where the surroundings are washed-out, are whitish or of a pale yellow type of hue, Beekle often simply seems to just blend into the environment, necessitating squinting on my part, even if I am wearing glasses, and causing an annoying bit of eye strain for me).

And as to the actual story, as to Dan Santat's accompanying text (for he functions as both author and illustrator here), while the concept of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, while the general idea of an imaginary friend type going travelling, going out to find a child to be its companion is indeed novel and an interesting twist (and while I have to a point actually enjoyed the ending of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, with Alice arriving and noticing Beekle, and both of them slowly becoming friends and companions), I cannot say that I have found either the general set-up or the specifics of how Dan Santat moves the plot along all that engrossing or in any way engaging. For while story presented in The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is sweet enough, I guess, for me personally, there certainly has in no manner been any kind of a "wow" or a "yes" factor, just a bit of a tedious yawn and even, and sadly, also a personal happiness that The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend was short and only took about five minutes maximum to read (because the illustrations simply are not my cup of proverbial tea by any stretch of the imagination, and the accompanying printed words, the narrative, the storyline of Beekle looking for a friend and finally finding Alice, while indeed tender and loving, are for all intents and purposes really not special enough to mask or to overcome my aesthetic annoyances and frustrations with the pictorial images, with how Beekle in particular has been depicted).
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,508 reviews155 followers
April 2, 2016
Dan Santat continues to amaze me. He is a brilliant children's book artist. I could look at his illustrations for hours. This book, may be his best artwork to date. The illustrations in this book are amazing. Your eyes keep searching and trying to remember all of the patterns and colors he uses. But then, there is also this heart wrenching story. We meet Beekle, who is waiting to be someone's friend. He sees all of his other imaginary friends that have been imagined by a real child and they are off to go play and have fun. But Beekle's turn never came. And the illustrations that go along with this part just make you want to go through the book and scoop Beekle up for yourself. But Beekle decides to do the unimaginable... he goes to the real world to find his friend (and the illustration of Beekle setting sail with the dragon... oh, Mr. Santat, I need a poster of that page!!!). And after searching and searching and seeing his other imaginary friends having fun with their friends, Beekle finally finds his special somebody. {heart warmed}
Brilliant illustrations, beautiful story. Please share this special book with someone!
Profile Image for Samantha.
4,985 reviews59 followers
April 14, 2014
So so so so so soooooooo good! Beekle is an imaginary friend, born in the land of imaginary creatures, but he's restless for his friend. He's tired of waiting to be dreamed up by a child so he sets off on a quest in the real world to find his friend.

Text has the perfect tone for the subject. The story is told through the foreign eyes of Beekle and his observations about the real world are full of humor. The origin of his friendship is incredibly heartwarming and illustrated to perfection in panels giving readers a play-by-play of the moment.

The illustrations were rendered using pencil, crayon, watercolor, ink, and Photoshop with hand-lettered text.

I can't say enough good about this book! It's everything you want it to be and more. It's magical, it's awwwwwwww-inspiring, it's clever, it's imaginative, it's sweet, it's a MUST READ!!! PreK-2+.
Profile Image for Paula.
Author 1 book208 followers
April 23, 2014
Optimism, positivity, taking action, facing fears, venturing into the unknown.

In other words, everything you want in a book for children. Or - everything you want as long as what you also want is charm and gorgeousness and soul. Beekle feels like Dan Santat opening up his grown-up boy heart, his dad heart, his maybe-a-little-bit-misunderstood artist heart (he was supposed to be a doctor after all) and pulling out the pale little blobby wad of resolve and courage that has lit his path. We should all have a Beekle.
Profile Image for Allie Davis.
16 reviews2 followers
March 2, 2017
This book was a fantasy about an imaginary friend who awaits his own friend on an island. When he is unnoticed for far too long he wanders off across the sea and into a big new city to find his real friend -- where they meet, and have adventures, share snacks and jokes with one another. The target audience for this book would be aimed towards primary grade levels, (K-3rd). I believe it is still a relevant time for some students to possibly have imaginary friends of their own, or to create imaginary friends to participate in games they create on their own.

Text-to-Self: While this book is in the part of the imaginary friend, I was consistently reminded of all the times when I was young, whether playing alone or with friends, when I or we would create imaginary people to play along with us to relate to our games. The imaginary friend in the book is described to play with his new friend, Alice, and they share jokes and snacks together, and go on many adventures together. When I would play school when I was young, I would create students to work on school activities and to answer questions during class time. I think this relates to what The Adventures of Beekle: The Imaginary Friend is about very well.

Text-to-Text: I would like to use Where the Wild Things Are again for my comparison, as this book is about a boy named Max who makes up an imaginary world of wild creatures that he tames and becomes ruler of during his sleep. Later, after sending his creatures to bed he becomes lonely and returns home to his mom. This is very similar to The Adventures of Beekle: The Imaginary Friend, as Beekle journeys away from his home in the hopes of finding his own friend – whom he later meets in the city. Together they have lots of fun and create memories just like the characters in Where the Wild Things Are do.

Text-to-World: This book reminded me of a couple of student’s I used to assist in teaching at a preschool who had imaginary friends. I know that up until mid-to-late primary grade levels, some students have imaginary friends. While working with these students I was able to witness types of activities the children would do, play, or talk with their imaginary friend. Some children enjoyed having them to play with during free time, or some children had an imaginary friend with them for all times of the day – during snacks, lessons, free play, naptime or circle time.
Profile Image for Meredith.
346 reviews44 followers
February 3, 2016
Oh, how fun it is to work in a library and in the children's department! I found this book while looking through our new selections and quickly read it. I think I will be buying this book for my young nephew who will love the beautiful illustrations in this book.

I really like the theme of this book. I had an imaginary friend had a child and I remember as a child thinking I could do anything and everything with my imaginary friend. This book captures that essence and children and adults who read it will really like that.

While most stories of imaginary friends are from the person's point of view, this one is from the imaginary friend's instead. Coming from an island of all the imaginary friends, Beekle is bored and wants to find his human friend. He is sick of waiting around. He heads to the normal world. if you will, and can't seem to find his new friend. When he finally does, they go on amazing adventures and the like.

A colorful book with great illustrations and simple sentence structure, any child will really like this book. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Beth.
2,891 reviews194 followers
August 9, 2015
Beekle is from an island far away where imaginary friends are born. Every night he waits for his special child to come and snatch him up as her friend, but sadly, that night never comes. Beekle is impatient to find his unimaginary friend so rather than wait his turn, he sets out on a quest to find his special child.

After I finished The Adventures of Beekle, I just had to sit and let it linger for a while before I could do anything else. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and the story will warm your heart and tickle the back of your throat as you choke back a few tears. There are so many little details in the illustrations that bring new delights in a second, third, or fourth reading.

Read my entire review on my blog.
Profile Image for The Styling Librarian.
2,170 reviews194 followers
May 10, 2014
The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat – upon finishing this book, my son and I immediately reread it. We couldn’t get enough of the end papers, chatted about whether we preferred the hard cover or sleeve more for the design, talked about friendship, and chatted about imaginary friends. I loved finding a new book that once again leads me to talking about being brave and taking risks! Highly recommend hopping up, running to the store, and purchasing a copy of this treasure! Sure to become a classic!
Profile Image for Zeinab Aghaei.
94 reviews56 followers
April 18, 2022
کلا کتابایی که درباره موجودات خیالی و دوستا و رویاهای خیالی در کودکی هستن و به گوگول ترین شکل ممکن نشون داده میشن، خیلی زیاد در من احساسات رقیقی به وجود میارن، به همراه حجم عظیمی از نوستالژی‌های کودکی خودم :`))))
Profile Image for Lily.
289 reviews46 followers
December 5, 2015
The gym that I go to is having a book fair, and I was staring longingly at the merchandise for the entire time that I was working out today. (How I miss going to book fairs!) Afterwards, I just had to see what was inside this book, because the little guy on the cover looks just like an Adipose. This story plays with the idea of what imaginary friends are doing when they're not "on call", which reminded me of another excellent children's book that I read recently, Crenshaw. Whereas Crenshaw was a chapter-book told from the point of a view of a young boy, this is a picture book from the point of view of the imaginary friend himself.

I loved how the sharp, high-contrast art style was used to illustrate all kinds of imaginary creatures, which makes them feel just as real as the "real" world. The color palette sets the mood for every scene, and excellent use is made of shadow and light. The story is super simple and not terribly surprising, but two things that I appreciated were 1) the emphasis on being brave and venturing out to find friends, rather than just waiting for someone to come to you, and 2) the observations of how strange it is that people can ignore the beauty that they pass by every day.

I wish I had a very small friend to share this with. :)
Profile Image for Jim Erekson.
599 reviews33 followers
February 19, 2015
Eh. Santat had a good time making a raft of imaginary friends, all of whom were creatures instead of people. The little marshmallowy, pokemonny main character can't wait around for someone to imagine him. This is a fun concept, but the story itself has little to it other than that concept. An uneventful and fairly boring search ends just right. Eh.

Santat's sensibility for how to compose a double-page spread is very good--it was especially interesting to see some of what he did with contrast in the backgrounds in the middle spreads. The figure illustrations are in a normalized style, very much a tv animation style. I thought it was okay, but not terribly interesting to look at over and over again. (Which reminds me: Cartoon Network's "Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends" does a much better job at playing around with the imaginary friend concept.)

Overall, this book doesn't really match up to some of the other Caldecott contenders this year (Draw!, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus)...and yet it won the medal. Eh.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,048 reviews1,802 followers
April 29, 2015
This was just okay.

There is a land of imaginary friends. In this land lives white-blob-looking-thing-that-wears-a-crown-for-some-reason. Tons of its friends get picked/invented by children and leave to go live in the real world with their child-friend. However, nobody chooses white-blob-looking-thing-that-wears-a-crown-for-some-reason.

So the thing goes on some adventures in imagination land. And then somehow makes it to the real world, where it is grey and boring. But then white-blob-looking-thing finds a playground and that makes it hopeful because there are children and imaginary friends there.

Eventually a little girl sees it sitting in a tree and they become friend and imaginary friend. She names it Beekle. Then they have lots of adventures... THE END.

I liked the fact that Beekle imagines his friend always as a boy, but he ends up with a girl child as a friend. I liked the illustrations.

But the story was just okay.
Profile Image for Mississippi Library Commission.
389 reviews71 followers
September 25, 2015
We're giving 2015 Caldecott winner Beekle five shiny, golden stars, and we'd give even more if we could. Santat's illustrations are sweet and charming; they harmonize perfectly with Beekle's story. And the story! Such simple, strong messages about friendship and imagination and perseverance--lovely from beginning to end. We guarantee that this one will end up in your bedtime reading pile night after night after night after night...
Profile Image for Zaz.
1,545 reviews57 followers
December 2, 2016
A cute and moving story about a poor little imaginary friend who can't find a kid to adopt him. I liked the story and the challenging premise (I don't meet often books with imaginary friends, it seems it's an unknown territory for most grown-ups). The main character was cute and also brave, and his adventure was beautifully drawn. The colors and several pages were gorgeous and I liked the care put in designing a good variety of imaginary creatures, with different shapes and colors.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,589 followers
October 20, 2014
The pictures are gorgeous, and the story could not be more sweet and charming. As an adult, I loved this book. But for whatever reason, not ONE of my three kids would sit still and listen to me read this. I lost all of them after a couple of pages.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
November 12, 2014
I liked this quite a bit. I like the story better than the art.. but maybe that is because the central creature is depicted as something less than truly fabulously "imaginative," but in fact "unimaginary." My family liked this as one of the best of the year.
Profile Image for Sarah Darkwood.
23 reviews4 followers
September 8, 2017
All my nieces and nephews will be seeing this book on their shelves eventually. It's going on mine too!
1,022 reviews116 followers
January 13, 2018
A really cute book written from the perspective of the imaginary friend as it waits to be picked to be a child’s imaginary friend.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,592 reviews

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