Have You Seen My Friend? The Adventures of Beekle! An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
HE WAS BORN ON AN ISLAND FAR AWAY WHERE IMAGINARY FRIENDS WERE CREATED.
HERE, THEY LIVED AND PLAYED, EACH EAGERLY AWAITING TO BE IMAGINED BY A REAL CHILD.
But Beekle must be hard to imagine, because he has been waiting for his turn far too long. At last he takes matters into his own pudgy hands and does the unimaginable: he sets out, captain of his fate, on his own, steering his own boat, crossing rough seas with fairly unimaginable creatures, and thinking of the friend that must be out there, somewhere, in the real world.
THE REAL WORLD WAS A STRANGE PLACE. NO KIDS WERE EATING CAKE. NO ONE STOPPED TO HEAR THE MUSIC.
Beekle has disembarked in a big city, where everyone seems to be bustling somewhere--but everyone is also in their own world, reading newspapers, listening to the music in their own ears, even catching a nap as they ride the subway. Nobody notices a doughy, blocky blob of a little guy hopefully wearing his paper crown. He's nobody's imaginary friend. He's invisible in the crowd, unimagined among the skyscrapers and busy traffic.
HE FELT VERY SAD. THEN HE HEARD....
There is a girl there. She can see him and she's talking to him. Shy at first, they smile.
THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT HER THAT FELT JUST RIGHT.
Finding the one who can imagine the real you is the theme of noted author and artist Dan Santat in his newest creation, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (Little Brown, 2014). Santat's narrative style is simple and yet evocative of the loneliness of the crowd. His artwork here is so varied and creative that it almost defies description, as he takes his main character from tropical island to the seascapes inhabited by unknown sea creatures, and into a hard-edged rectilinear urban scene in grim contrast to his pillowy, billowy little hero. The contrasting island to ocean to cityscape settings give Santat a chance to showcase his considerable illustrative chops, displayed in pencil, ink, watercolors, and Photoshop art, in a story of an imaginary friend like no other. "...Like Beekle's new friend, there's something here that feels just right as an "unimaginary" friendship creates a joyous, recognizable bond. A terrific addition to any library," says School Library Journal in its starred review.
Santat's inimitable illustrative style can be seen in his own Sidekicks and in his artwork in Mac Barnett's Oh No!: Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World and Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) and Samantha Berger's Crankenstein.