Many people had an imaginary friend as a child, but did you ever wonder where they came from and how they are chosen by children? The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat shows us where imaginary friends come from and how friends can help each other overcome obtacles through the adventures of Beekle.
Beekle was born on an island where all imaginary friends are born, where they wait until a child dreams them up. One by one, Beekle watches as the other imaginary friends get chosen which discourages him. He decides to take matters into his own hands and sets off into the real world to find his friend. Upon arriving, he finds a park filled with kids, hoping is friend would be there. Eventually, a little girl called Alice finds him and gives him his name, Beekle.
Imagination vs Reality
“The real world was a strange place,” Beekle observes. To the adult eye, the “real world” is not strange at all, while the imaginative world of a child is. The kids in the book go about their days happily playing with their colorful and often strange-looking imaginary friends. While children know that their imaginary friends are not real, the strange world of their imagination fuels their creativity.
When Beekle goes off to find his friend in the real world, he notices drastic differences in the world of adults compared to the world of children. For example, Beekle notes that “everyone is in need of a nap,” and “no one stopped to hear the music.” The adults are wearing monochromatic colors and the world around them is dull & unimaginative. When Beekle gets to the park with the kids, everything is colorful and cheerful.
Friends Help Each Other Overcome Obstacles
Beekle teaches children that when there is something they want to achieve they can’t sit around without taking action and expect something to happen. They have to act in order to make it happen. The thought of the friendship with his friend kept Beekle going and encouraged when others might have given up.
Rather than just sitting around and waiting for his friend to come, Beekle goes into the real word without being imagined first by a real child in order to find them himself. For an imaginary friend to do this is “unimaginable.”
Full Illustrations Emphasizes the World
The illustrations are full-page, with the text right on the pictures. There is no white space, which is a blessing, as it would have ruined the colorful world of Beekle. The full page illustrations emphasize the world and the story. For example, when shown with other imaginary friends, Beekle is set off to the side to show how he is not going to get picked anytime soon.
The Adventures of Beekle is good for preschoolers who are still reliant on illustrations, but have more advanced language skills. With minimal text per page, young children can easily follow along. Preschoolers often have imaginary friends, so they will delight in finding out where they’re friends came from.