February 20, 2018


Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat is absolutely, without a doubt, going on my Best of 2018 list. Which is crazy because we're only halfway through February, and I have a limited number of spots on the list. But given that it's also one of my favorites of all time, I'd say the claim is  completely warranted.

A young boy (who looks less than thrilled) is dropped off at his grandfather's house one day. It's obvious that both parties are very nervous, and it quickly becomes evident why: the grandfather doesn't speak English and the boy doesn't speak Thai. They have no way to verbally communicate.  And it's pretty tough to build a relationship without words. They eat dinner and watch TV, but it isn't until the two sit down to draw together that they finally begin to form a bond that goes beyond words. 

Now, you know my focus on this site is illustration and design, so I'm not going to go too far into how brilliantly Lê and Santat communicate the difficulties of building relationships between intergenerational family members who have glaringly different life experiences. But rest assured, that brilliance is there. This book is designed to emphasize that all anyone needs to connect with another person is art, and words are secondary to building relationships and overcoming language barriers. The boy has a distinct illustration style and the grandfather has one as well, but together their drawings become shared, universal experiences: whether you're trying to reach a distant family member or simply getting to know a new friend, art is something we can all experience together. And when their two art styles combine at the end? Oh man, I just love it so much! Also, on an unrelated note, make sure you check out the copyright page for all the translations from Thai.

Drawn Together publishes June 5, 2018 from Disney-Hyperion!

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