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we’ve all heard about – or even had – imaginary friends – but what happens when the unimagined friend takes things into his or her own hands? 2015 caldecott medal winner the adventures of beekle: the unimaginary friend (2014) by dan santat is absolutely wonderful! in fact, it will be the first text i read aloud to my undergraduate children’s literature students (all future elementary school teachers) this morning!
i think what i love most about santat’s text is that he takes this rather common idea of an imaginary friend and flips it. he urges readers to think about the feelings of not the kid imagining the friend but rather the unimagined friend imagining the kid. so brilliant! in addition to the wonderful story about creativity and the power of imagination, santat’s text is a mentor text for writing about a topic that is familiar and tweaking it just enough so that it is utterly and fantastically new. he does not tell the same story about the little boy or girl having an imaginary friend. oh no, he tells the story of beekle, the unimagined friend, who can only wait so long before he takes things into his own hands. i think sometimes writers struggle to come up with something so utterly fresh and original that they fail to understand that sometimes just putting a unique spin on something can be just the right thing to get started.
similarly, i also thought a lot about perspective when i read this book. usually we read about a child’s adventures with an imaginary friend but thinking about what the imaginary friend thinks is powerful. that santat makes the imaginary friend an active character rather than a passive character might be a good discussion topic for writing groups.
if you read one book to your students or children this week, let it be dan santat’s the adventures of beekle: the unimaginary friend!
would love to hear what you think about the adventures of beekle: the unimaginary friend in the comments below!