As a member of the 2015 Caldecott committee, making “the call” to Dan Santat on the morning of February 2 was such a thrill. The good folks at ALA make it possible for you to experience it HERE. Once the announcements of the Caldecott awards were made public, the Internet buzzed. One of the first things I saw online after the announcements was this short video from Dan Santat. It melted my heart. I was running on adrenaline, very little sleep, and home-made ginger cookies at this point, and that little clip just really got me. Dan Santat’s first Tweet of that day was “I’m so bummed the Patriots won the #SuperBowl last night. My whole day is ruined.” I immediately thought, “The guy is funny!” You can follow him on Twitter @dsantat. When I got back to my hotel room, I saw this amazing craft from This Picture Book Life blog. It inspired me to create my own Snow Beekle once I got back home.
When I was home I really dug in to read the Caldecott news. There are several interviews that will give you more about Dan Santat, like this one from Publisher’s Weekly, this one from NPR, this one from Dan’s local station in Pasadena, and this one on the 7 Impossible Things blog. And there’s this fun podcast from Picturebooking.
So, there’s a lot of Beekle love out there, and it is well-deserved. This year’s Caldecott medal book is one that you can share at preschool storytime. There’s already a craft you can make (with preschoolers I’d use frosting scribblers instead of Sharpie marker to make the face because you know they are going to want to eat it). You can use The Adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend with older groups, too. It is a seemingly simple book, but so much is going on. Embedded in this story is the archetypal Hero’s Journey: Beekle leaves home on a quest, heeding his call to adventure. He leaves his normal world and ventures out into the unknown. He then experiences trials in that world: he is looking for something, and searches valiantly. Once Beekle finds what he is looking for, and has bonded with his new friend, he can return, and do the unimaginable. For more on the Hero’s Journey, and how Beekle relates, try this link.
Look closely at that art! Each section of the journey is denoted by color and slight style changes, and fits the pacing just right. Look for the color yellow to tell you that change or something significant has occurred. Look at the emotion on our hero’s face when he meets his friend. Explore those end pages. Take that dust jacket off and revel in the lovely board cover underneath. Find the joy in this book that so many young children do. And don’t forget to look for the Beekle Bum – that image gets noticed every time I share this book in storytime.
Have fun with this book, and if you have more ideas on how to use it in storytime or in the classroom, share in the comments!