There is an island far away, where imaginary friends are created. All the imaginary friends wait there to be imagined by a real child. One by one, the imaginary friends are chosen, until there is just one left. He decides to do something that no other imaginary friend has ever done before. He sets off to find his special child in the real world. He searches far and wide, and even meets some of his imaginary friends from the island. At last, he finds his special child – a shy, young girl who loves to draw. They become friends and she gives him a name – Beekle.
This is a wonderful book about friendship, imagination and courage. The gentle storyline is full of sympathy and empathy. It looks at the complexities of both the real world of friendship and the imaginative world of creativity. The text’s message is simple – the importance of friendship – but it contains deeper layers of meaning, about loneliness, love and the courage to do something different. At the same time, it is compassionate and reassuring, showing great psychological insight.
The clever illustrations are beautifully drawn. They successfully visualise an imaginary world. They also contain some beautiful and haunting images. An example of this is the picture of the tree with star-shaped leaves where the imaginary friend meets his special child for the first time. The powerful feelings created by the artwork are reminiscent of the emotional intensity expressed in Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar and The Red Tree by Shaun Tan.
The story has been written carefully and thoughtfully and is perfectly matched by the brilliant illustrations. This is a book to treasure, and its enduring message about friendship will not date.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend was originally published in the USA and won the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 2015.