Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Adventures of  
Beekle The Unimaginary Friend  
By Dan Santat

Awards: 2015 Caldecott Winner

Beekle is an incredibly beautiful book. No wonder it won the Caldecott this year! It definitely has the ‘WOW’ factor- not only with the fabulous illustrations, but with the imaginatively creative storytelling, as well. 

I would use this as a mentor for older students (Grs 4-6) to model strong leads, creative flow,  use of elaboration ( in text and illustration) and sentence fluency to build imagery and visualization for readers.  I would definitely use it as a read-aloud for younger students.

Also, have students focus on the magnificent illustrations, as there is so much depth layered into them. This book would be great to use with a document camera projected onto a smartboard or a smart TV.

Dan Santat is an inspiration to the world of children’s literature with his creativity, not only with his illustrations, but also with his flowing, thoughtful storytelling.  He mentions in his ‘About the Author’ blurb, that his parents had wanted him to become a doctor.  Thank goodness he didn’t! 

Book Talk
Readers meet an imaginary friend who is born on an island in a faraway land where imaginary friends enthusiastically await to be called into service by children in cities and towns.  As he waits, he thinks and wonders about the child who will be his friend and what life will be like with him or her.

A favorite line: “He was born on an island far away where imaginary friends were created. Here, they lived and played each eagerly waiting to be imagined by a real child.”

However,this particular imaginary friend is not selected by any child. He watches all his friends get selected, but he remains on the island. He begins to think about all the things his child would be doing to keep him/her so busy that they cannot come up with a moment to imagine him.

So he takes things into his own hands and heads to the Big City to find his friend.  He is brave and travels into the unknown. He makes some interesting observations about humans and human behavior.  He finally finds a former friend from the island and follows him to a playground.

The imaginary friend is so happy at the playground and he senses that something good might happen there. Sure enough, by chance, he finds his human friend.  The exchange between the two when they meet is  tender and as they work through getting to know each, the child names the imaginary friend, Beekle!  

Another favorite line:At first, they weren’t sure what to do. Neither of them had made a friend before. But….after a little while they realized they were perfect together.”

Beekle is thrilled with his name and his budding friendship.  Together with their other friends (real and imaginary!), they all go to explore the world in extraordinary ways.

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Fantasy
Reading Workshop strategies: Predict, Connecting, Inferring, Analyzing, Visualizing
Writing Workshop genre and strategies: Fantasy writing, strong lead, elaboration, sentence fluency

Dan Santat’s website:

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