Reviews for Drawn Together

by Minh Le

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

This story from Lê (Let Me Finish!), about a Thai-speaking grandfather and his assimilated American grandson, testifies to the mighty power of art. The opening sequence shows the boy getting dropped off by his mother and glumly ringing his grandfather's doorbell. A gulf of age and language separates the two. Though the grandfather is dressed in Western clothes, he puts his hands together in a traditional Thai greeting. In the panel artwork that follows, the grandfather's speech appears in Thai script, the boy's in English. In despair, the boy pulls out his sketchbook and draws a boy wizard with a peaked hat. Grandfather, it turns out, can draw, too. His wizard, clothed in magnificent Thai ceremonial garb, is a showstopper. A phantasmagoric duel begins: "All the things we could never say come pouring out." Santat's work dazzles with layers of color, exquisitely worked traditional designs, and ambitious scale. With the grandfather drawing in his idiom and the boy in his, the two defeat the dragon of difference that separates them and discover that they do not need to be able to speak in order to communicate. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Stephen Barbara, InkWell Management. Illustrator's agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

[Books by Horn Book reviewers are not reviewed; we provide notice of publication and descriptive comment.] An English-speaking grandson and his Thai-speaking grandfather have trouble communicating in words--but with art supplies in their hands, they create a shared magical adventure involving warriors and dragons. Varied mixed-media panel illustrations incorporate culturally specific motifs in both the real-world setting and the fantastical story-within-a-story. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The power of art takes center stage in this cleverly titled story of a Thai-speaking grandfather connecting to his assimilated American grandson. The title page introduces readers to a sullen-faced Asian boy as he walks up to a door and rings the bell. After a traditional bow of greeting, the grandfather, dressed like Mr. Rogers in a white shirt and red sweater, wordlessly welcomes the grandson inside. In paneled artwork, the two unsuccessfully attempt conversation over dinner, with the grandfather speaking in Thai script and the boy speaking in English. Sitting in the uncomfortable silence that cultural divides create, the awkward boy finally walks away to doodle on paper. He draws a wizard with a wand and a conical red hat. Grandpa, recognizing this creative outlet, fetches a sketchbook and, surprisingly, draws his version of a wizard: a tightly detailed warrior clothed in traditional Thai ceremonial dress. The young boy is amazed, marveling that "we see each other for the first time." The two begin a battle of imagination, wands and paintbrushes thrashing like swords. One draws in energetic colorful cartoons, the other with fierce black-and-white, precisely brushed drawings. Santat elevates their newfound shared passion into energetic, layered, and complex designs, separate and entwined at the same time. They clash with the dragon that divides them and build a new world together "that even words can't describe." L's compelling storyline is propelled forward by Santat's illustrations, each capturing both the universal longing to connect and the joy of sharing the creative process. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* When a young Asian American boy visits his Thai-speaking grandfather, despite granddad's best efforts a hot dog for dinner, control of the TV remote the language barrier and the generational divide seem insurmountable. Until, that is, the boy brings out his paper and markers and they're matched by his grandfather's sketchbook and paintbrush. Together, they're drawn into a vibrant world of boy wizards and mythical Thai warriors, and all the things we could never say come pouring out. They discover each other in imaginary battle against a fearsome dragon, before the end of the evening heralds a new beginning for them both. Lê's poignant and deeply meaningful tale is rocketed into the stratosphere by Santat's dynamic and playful visuals, imaginatively conceived and action-packed even as they potently evoke the culture they're drawn from. Beneath the dynamism, Santat matches the more delicate emotions the story hinges on; one glance at the boy's face, dreading what's ahead of him as he waits for his grandfather to answer the door, attests to this. The writer-artist collaboration's success is also on display in subtle visual representation of the shifting relationship, as when the boy and grandfather, coming together in a final battle, exchange artistic weapons. Focus on an underrepresented culture; highly accessible emotions; concise, strong storytelling; and artistic magnificence make this a must-have.--Karp, Jesse Copyright 2010 Booklist


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PreS-Gr 2-An American-born child tells about his visit to his grandfather. Their meeting is awkward at first since the boy doesn't speak Thai; the older man doesn't speak English. The reluctant narrator's entrance into his grandfather's home begins before the title page and continues wordlessly in a series of panels. Different foods and television programs exacerbate their inability to communicate verbally, all depicted in spare text and panels of translucent illustrations. The boy gives up talking, instead opening his backpack to pull out a sketch of a superhero. He is surprised when his grandfather's sketchbook reveals another superhero, which leads them to discover "a world beyond words." The boy and his grandfather connect when creating an artful world: one colorful, childlike; the other in sophisticated black-and-white line drawings. When the magic seems to dissipate, a dragon enters and appears to separate them-but once again the pair is drawn together in a satisfying conclusion that requires few if any words. VERDICT This handsomely illustrated book is perfectly paced to express universal emotions that connect generations separated by time, experience, and even language. It is sure to appeal widely on many levels.-Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at -District of Columbia Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.