by Dan Santat
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is an absolutely adorable book that kids are going to beg to hear over and over again. It celebrates the power of imagination, the joy of friendship, and the tremendous fun that can come from doing everyday things when you have a best friend. Most children have an imaginary friend at some point whose name and appearance quite often baffle the adults in their life (my cousin had two imaginary friends: Joe Hunk and Sue Kleenex...we're still wondering about that!). Beekle shows us the importance of these imaginary playmates and how all friendships, real or imagined, are a wonderful thing.
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Painting is always fun, but to make your own paint and then watch it puff in the microwave is magical. We thought this was a perfect activity to mimic Beekle's soft and cuddly appearance. After you've finished Beekle, mix up more paint, add some food coloring, and encourage your young reader to paint their own imaginary friend or anything else that comes to mind.
You can also use paint brushes, but try painting with Q-tips for a different painting experience!
Homemade Puff Paint
Adapted from Happy Hooligans.
- 1 tablespoon self-rising flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon water (add more if needed to get the consistency of yogurt)
- liquid food coloring, if you want colored paints
- Stir together all ingredients until smooth.
- Paint on study paper or cardboard. Once painting is complete, place the cardboard in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds.
Puff Paint Beekle
- Untinted puff paint, above
- Cardboard, we used some from a cereal box
- Yellow and black construction paper]
- Use Q-tips to paint Beekle on cardboard. Once the painting is complete, place the cardboard in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds.
- Cut Beekle's crown from yellow construction paper and glue in place.
- Cut eyes and mouth from black paper and glue in place.
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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend was the 2015 Winner of the Caldecott Medal. "The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children."
How many of the Caldecott winner and honor books have you read? Here are the ones we have featured on Off the Shelf:
- Extra Yarn
- One Cool Friend
- A Ball for Daisy
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee
- The Hello, Goodbye Window
- Kitten's First Full Moon
- The Stray Dog
- Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type
- Where the Wild Things Are
- The Snowy Day
- Inch by Inch
- A Tree is Nice
- Blueberries for Sal
- Make Way for Ducklings
- Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
Young readers may not understand the difference between being an author and an illustrator, or that sometimes, as Beekle's case, the same person can write the story and create the illustrations. Invite them to play illustrator and create their own pictures of Beekle, Alice, and their adventures!
More activities to inspire young illustrators:
One of Beekle and Alice's favorite things to do together is share their snacks, and Alice draws a picture of delicious-looking muffins or cupcakes. We thought peanut butter muffins seemed like a good thing to share with friends, and a topping of secretly healthy frosting make these extra special. Peanut butter muffins can often be heavy, but these are light, fluffy, and full of whole grains. These make the perfect snack to enjoy before setting off on an unimaginable adventure!
Peanut Butter Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.
- 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or smooth
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with papers.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Stir in half of the buttermilk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk and, scraping the sides, stir until smooth.
- Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake 18 to 23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in a center muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Make the frosting: Stir together yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Spoon over muffins.
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