Lê, Minh. Drawn Together. Dan Santat, Illus. Picture Book. Disney/Hyperion, 06/2018. pp. $17.99. 978-1-484767-60-3. OUTSTANDING. GRADES K-3.
When a Thai American boy’s mother drops him off for an afternoon with his grandfather who doesn’t speak English, the boy dutifully bows, but is clearly not looking forward to their time together. While eating (Grandfather has a bowl of ramen, the boy a hot dog and French fries) and watching TV the two have difficulty communicating and finding common ground, but as the boy brings out some paper and markers and begins to draw, Grandfather brings out his own sketchbook and ink brush and the two “see each other for the first time.” Beginning and ending with primarily wordless comic-style paneling, once Grandfather forges a connection by bringing out his drawing materials, the illustrations open up to full-page spreads that burst with vibrant color and movement as the boy and his grandfather’s two distinct drawing styles—one child-like and colorful, the other intricate and classic—mesh together and create a shared fantasy world. When a new foe appears in their mutual creation threatening the progress they have made with each other, the boy and his grandfather (each has his own unique doppelganger) take each other’s magic drawing implement and turn their adversary into a bridge, showing that the connection between the two is complete and lasting. A dynamic and powerful picture book about breaking down perceived barriers in communication and culture by discovering a shared love.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library