The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Dan Santat. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-19998-8
On an island of imaginary friends waiting “to be picked by a child and given a special name,” one friend—he’s adorably pudgy, and wears a paper crown—resolves to wait no longer. He sets sail in a small boat, but the sea serpents and whales he encounters are not nearly as daunting as the real world, which is gray and pedestrian: “No kids were eating cake. No one stopped to hear the music.” At last, his human appears: she’s a geeky, mop-headed girl who likes to draw. A sweet sequence shows the two shifting and blushing next to each other; she turns to him with his new name: “Beekle.” He’s overjoyed. Santat (Crankenstein), a versatile and talented illustrator, ranges wide, drawing underwater ocean scenes, grim cityscapes, and appealing alien creatures. The third-person retelling weighs the story down somewhat—there’s no conversation—and the pace drags as Beekle’s search has more obstacles than it needs to. Affirming thoughts abound (“thinking about his friend gave him the courage to journey on”), but fans may miss the cracked humor of Santat’s more irreverent work. Ages 3–6. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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