Why Dan Santat is My Imaginary Friend
I was first introduced to Dan Santat's work through a friend in my writing group who mentioned The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, a book I immediately fell in love with. Then my family and I met Santat at the L.A. Times Festival of Books when he and Gennifer Choldenko did a reading of Dad and the Dinosaur. Choldenko read while Santat drew pictures on an easel and stalked back and forth on the stage. It was hilarious and entertaining.
Here's the skinny:
- Beekle is a book that feels like a kindred spirit to me. Yes, books are my friends. See my review of the book here.
- Santat does fabulous collaborations (see above) and I can't wait to grab my copy of The Princess and the Pit Stop, written by Tom Angleberger. Yes, THE Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame. And a Princess who drives a race car? I'm in.
- While all along I assumed incorrectly that Santat was Filipino, he's actually Thai.
- He created a show for the Disney channel, The Replacements. And while that's also the name of one of my favorite bands, the show is not about them.
- He's funny (see his IG account), he's a dad, his kids are mixed like mine are. I can relate. Oh, and in my research, I discovered that he went to high school with my husband though they didn't/don't know each other. Wish I knew that when we met him.
- After the Fall is such an inspiring re-telling of the Humpty Dumpty story. I won't spoil it for you, but it may be one of my favorite re-tellings.
- Eyebrows. I can often recognize Santat's illustrations because his characters seem to have very animated eyebrows. Just like Santat. I promise I'm not a stalker, it's just that I'm still laughing at the the reading he did at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. My Mini Me often tries to achieve the 'skeptical eyebrow' look in which she tries to lift one above the other. She hasn't succeeded yet.
- Drawn Together: Santat illustrated this book written by Minh Le, which depicts the relationship between a grandfather and his grandchild. I have so much love for my grandparents that this one strikes close to home.
- Man, I almost left out Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Santat–a great in-between chapter books series that was one of my (reluctant reader) nephew's favorites! I mean, robots. What else is there to say?
So, yeah, Dan Santat may not know it, but he's my imaginary friend. Or, at least an inspiration for the dreamer and writer in me.