Thursday, May 10, 2018

drawn together by Minh Le #PPBF Review

2018 Recommendations-- Perfect Picture Book Friday

drawn together by Minh Le

The pace of technological inventions creates a generational divide for everyone, even if there isn't a language barrier. If children are lucky enough to have living grandparents, and to live close enough to see them, it's heart-breaking to think that anything else could stand in the way of a relationship between them. Today's rec is a sparse text with gorgeous illustrations that spoke to me on several levels. This book releases next month but is available for pre-order now.

: drawn together                          
Author: Minh Le
IllustratorDan Santat
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion, June 5, 2018
Intended Ages: 4-6 (note: theme/art for all ages)
Themes: Grandparents, Art, Communication

Opening Line: "So . . .what's new, Grandpa?"  Note: this line of text comes after multiple wordless spreads that set the mood and scene.
Synopsis: Spare text married with a mix of graphic novel style panels and traditional picture book spreads explores the emotional distance a young boy feels when his mom drops him off to visit his Grandpa. Although family, the young boy and Grandpa don't speak the same language--or do they . . .?

What I like about this book: While the story uses multicultural multi-generational characters, the message about building bridges of communication applies to all people of all ages. Silence may be golden for some, but often it's a painful reminder that we don't know what to say. I'm a huge fan of double entendre titles, and this one doesn't disappoint.
     The illustrations carry much of the story in sly glances, frowns and smiles, making clear that neither character is comfortable in the situation. Cultural and language barriers divide them. Yet by finding a common passion, two people gain a new understanding and appreciation for each other. The use of color and chaotic complex illustrations bring the flood of emotions to life. Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat does not disappoint! I think I like this one better than Beekle (and that's saying a lot!) I was reminded of the scenes from the movies The Matrix and Lucy where everything whirls and falls into place. 
     Note: the cover actually gives away the story ending, but I didn't notice it on my first reading, so don't look too hard at it! And if you're wondering what Grandpa is saying, there is a "translation" on the title page. I didn't see that in my first reading either, and it didn't matter. This book is one that can seriously be described as breath-taking and one that invites readers to revisit it again.


  • Brainstorm ways to communicate without using words.  If you have never played charades before, give it a try!
  • Pick one subject and then draw pictures together as a family. Do the pictures all look the same? Why or why not?
  • Do something nice for someone you don't usually talk to. Does your kind action start a conversation?
  • Get out crayons, markers, pencils, collage materials or whatever different types of art supplies are available and color in the same picture (or if you don't have the same picture printed off to color in, make a similar picture with each medium). Which do you like best?
  • Try eating food from a different culture than what you're accustomed to.
  • Call/visit your grandparents and give them a hug. Talk about what you have in common. If you don't have grandparents available, ask anyone you want to know better to participate.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy my selection this week.  I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!
Note: May 23, 2018 Cynthia Leitich Smith has an interview with Minh Le about this wonderful book

This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

Note: My review is based on a review copy received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  1. I love Dan Santat's artwork - so will keep an eye out for this book when it is released.

    1. This is my favorite so far! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Love your brainstorming idea. I still use hand and facial gestures and lots of sound effects developed while learning German on the spot! Can hardly wait to see this one!

    1. I am lucky to have seen it already. We did the same sort of crazy communicating by gestures when we lived overseas and traveled.

  3. Can't wait to read this one! I love to see an intergenerational story done well.

    1. Three more weeks! Hope you'll love it as much as I do.

  4. Dan Santat is amazingly talented. Looking forward to exploring this one.

    1. He is talented, and prolific! Blows my mind.

  5. This sounds like a lovely multi-generational book where the grandson and grandfather discover what they share in common.

  6. A beautiful story and I can't wait for it to come out. Love this intergenerational type stories. Thanks for sharing.