SHARED by: Katherine Grier, Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

The coveted Caldecott Medal was recently awarded to The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. In addition to being very deserving of a Caldecott because it is a story with a ton of soul and gorgeous illustrations, the book captured my heart because it brought back fond memories of my own imaginary friend, Joupy Carrot. Joupy was a little boy of no more than 2 inches tall who was very real to me. So much so, that I nearly caused my poor grandfather to drive off the road once when I screamed out from the backseat “Grandpa, watch out or Joupy will fall off of the dashboard.”

Like Joupy, Beekle is a little guy. He is white and puffy and wears an obviously handmade construction paper crown. Beekle lives in a faraway land where imaginary friends wait to be invented by children in the real world. After waiting for quite a while, Beekle gets restless and decides to go off on his own to find his child. Once in the real world, Beekle encounters lots of gray, lots of adults and lots of unfamiliar sights and sounds which are depicted in wonderfully detailed pictures. Beekle courageously continues his quest and eventually makes his way to a playground where he sees familiar colors and shapes, as well as other children with their imaginary friends. Encouraged at last, he is sure he will meet his child here. He searches and waits, but still does not see the child he has pictured in his mind. Finally, he is approached by a little girl. She smiles at him shyly and he awkwardly smiles back. Soon they are laughing and the start of a beautiful friendship begins.

The plot and artwork of this book had me hooked, but I loved it for many other reasons too. I enjoyed the fact that the story is told from the perspective of the imaginary friend, rather than the child. I think the simple text works seamlessly with the illustrations, and makes for great story time reading. And, the author includes so many wonderful moments and positive feelings that the reader can’t help but be satisfied by the end. This is truly a delight of a picture book which I will be adding to the library wishlist immediately.