Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join Louise Aamodt, Kristi Janikula Herro, and me, for a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: Illustrative Gem

Text and Illustrations © 2014, Dan Santat

BEEKLEPicture Book, Fiction

Grade Level:
Preschool-2nd Grade
Age Range: 3-7 years

Little, Brown Books for
Young Readers

Caldecott Medal Winner
Huffington Post Best Overall Picture Book of 2014
PBS Parents Best Picture Book of the Year
NPR “Great Read”
ALSC Notable Book for Children
A Chicago Public Library Best Picture Book of the Year

But thinking about his friend gave him the courage to journey on . . . ~ The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend

Dan Santat’s award-winning story is both a narrative and illustrative gem. Santat’s mastery is evident in his use of hues to create mood and tone. I delighted in the bursting colors of the imaginary world and felt the weight of the dark and dim “real world”. Told from the point of view of the imaginary friend, Santat wisely used varying vantage points to convey Beekle’s emotions. The breathtaking artwork has both humor and heart. The clever narrative has both wisdom and simplicity.  And, … I just bet, that you can’t read this book about friendship without asking: What would my imaginary friend look like?

~ Kristi

Every night he stood under the stars, hoping for his turn to be picked by a child and given a special name. ~ The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend

Who hasn’t felt a bit overlooked, nondescript, or dare I say . . . lumpy? All the more reason to root for Beekle. Santat’s dreamy, rainbow-zen artwork keeps the mood sweet and upbeat. Is it too late in life to shop around for my own special friend?

~ Lou

Her face was friendly and familiar, and there was something about her that felt just right. ~ The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend

For our writers  group’s holiday celebration, we each brought a favorite 2014 picture book. Mine was Beekle. The poignant story of longing and friendship proves that Dan Santat is an exemplary author as well as a Caldecott-deserving illustrator. He deserves every honor, and more. Contemplate Santat’s out-of-this-world end papers. Pure genius.

Fun story-behind-the-story facts: Beekle is a sweet tribute to Santat ‘s son. Santat is best of friends with Lisa Yee, author of the fabulous Millicent Min and Bobby series. Santat illustrated Yee’s Bobby series, which was inspired by Yee’s son. Their creative friendship inspires and motivates ours.

~ Anna

Book Trailer: The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

KEM Sapphire

Watch for my Gem next!

We want to hear from you!
What children’s book is your Illustrative Gem?


  1. I started reading Conan comic books as a kid and never forgot an issue which basically said, “If you don’t like your situation, either accept it, or try to change it.” A similar sentiment launches Beekle onto a quest that forever changes him, and his special friend. This story has a fun premise, fun art, and touching message for all ages, with zero blood and gore. 🙂

  2. Santat’s menagerie of children with their imaginary friends makes one stop and sigh in wonder.
    This story is friendly and familiar, and there’s something about it that feels just right.

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