The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Cover of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
1st ion cover
Author Dan Santat
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Publication date
April 8, 2014
Pages 40
Awards Caldecott Medal
ISBN 978-0316199988
OCLC 1023214260

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is a 2014 picture book by Dan Santat. The book won the 2015 Caldecott Award and tells the story of an imaginary friend in search of a child.


Beekle is an imaginary friend who decides to leave the island where these friends wait to be called into being by a child. After a day exploring the world and being scared, Beekle climbs a tree and cries. It is then that he meets Alice and the two become friends. The book is told exclusively from Beekle's point of view.

Background and analysis[]

Santat wrote the book as a gift to his son[1] and it was one of 14 books Santat illustrated in 2014.[2] It was just the second book Santat had written, with his previous writing occurring more than 10 years earlier.[2] The name Beekle came from his son's first word, an attempt to say bicycle.[2] His goal was to explore imaginary friends in a new way by taking the point of view of the imaginary friend.[1] Robin Smith, a teacher, book reviewer, and participant on multiple American Library Association award committees, praised Santat's use of greys and colors and the way that the story being told through Beekle's point of view helps readers to feel Beekle's emotions.[3] The style of illustrations in The Adventures of Beekle are a departure from the more action-oriented illustrations Santat had been known for creating.[2] The story was originally a metaphor for the creative process; Beekle was originally drawn with one eye. Through the writing process Beekle become more of a blob and the metaphor was removed to focus on the theme of friendship.[2]

Awards and reception[]

The book was recognized by the American Library Association with the 2015 Caldecott Award,[1] citing its "fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship"[4] and as an ALSC Notable Book for Children.

The book received mostly positive critical reception. The Huffington Post named it the Best Overall Picture Book of 2014 calling it "deeply personal... and brilliantly universal."[5] Common Sense Media gave the book 5 stars and rated the book as appropriate for ages 3 and up with an A+ rating for educational value.[6] In a starred review Mary Elam writing in School Library Journal said the book "a terrific addition to any library."[7]

In 2015 a film adaptation developed by Jason Reitman for DreamWorks Animation was announced.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Neary, Lynn (2 February 2016). "'Adventures Of Beekle' Wins Caldecott; Newbery Goes To 'The Crossover". NPR. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hsu, Connie. "Dan Santat." The Horn Book magazine, July–Aug. 2015, pp. 55+. Literature Resource Center. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  3. ^ Smith, Robin (26 December 2014). "The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend". Calling Caldecott. Hornbook. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  4. ^ "The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend Awards & Grants". American Library Association. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  5. ^ Le, Minh (2 December 2014). "Best Picture Books of 2014". Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  6. ^ McMahon, Regan. "The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  7. ^ Elam, Mary (1 April 2014). "Adventures of Beekle". School Library Journal.
  8. ^ Patten, Dominic (27 May 2015). "Jason Reitman Takes On 'Beekle' Book Adaptation For DreamWorks Animation". Deadline.
Preceded by
Caldecott Medal
Succeeded by
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear