Review by Miriam Kim
How do you communicate with someone when you share no common language? And what do you do when that person is family? These are some of the challenges explored in Minh Lê’s delightful picturebook, Drawn Together. When the nameless protagonist is dropped off at his grandfather’s house, there is an immediate breakdown of communication and awkwardness. It is soon apparent that grandfather and grandson will have to work together, without the luxury of language, to bridge the gap between them. Dan Santat’s wonderful artwork captures not only the emotions of each character, but their cultural identities as well. The main character, who is an Asian-American child, is represented by fantastical colors and markers, while the grandfather is represented by intricate black and white calligraphic drawings. The distinct stylistic differences illustrate the distance between grandfather and grandson.
This is a beautiful story, both in the message it presents and the charming artwork. It reveals the struggles of many immigrant families, where grandparents and grandchildren must overcome generational, cultural, and language barriers in order to communicate and form relationships. However, it also shows us that these barriers can be overcome, and that the ability to share love is not bound by words. Drawn Together is a book that can be enjoyed by anyone, and the message it shares is universal. It is a story that reminds us that regardless of differences, there are always ways to communicate.
Drawn Together, by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat. Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 40 pages.
Miriam is an EL teacher, currently pursuing an additional license in Communication Arts & Literature, who loves reading and is always eager to fill her classroom library with more multicultural works.