Author: Minh Le
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words.
With spare, direct text by Minh Lê and luminous illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat, this stirring picture book about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.
What I Think: Relationships with grandparents are special. My own kids adore their grandparents and I loved mine so much. I have memories of working in the garden and mowing the lawn with my grandpa, painting with my grandma, and playing cards with my other grandma. Each of them made me feel important. They showed me how to slow down and take my time and enjoy what I was doing. Drawn Together felt so true to me because my grandmother Mamita spoke Spanish and barely knew English. I learned most of my Spanish from her but there were still so many times when I struggled to express myself accurately to her or failed to understand what she was trying to say to me. Especially her jokes. She loved to recite poetry, sing songs, and tell stories and jokes. Jokes involve complex language which made them so hard to understand. I wish I could have better understood everything she ever said to me...but the reality is that I couldn't. It's hard to explain the heartbreak of this reality but in Drawn Together, Minh Le and Dan Santat bring this feeling to life.
While not everyone has the same experience with a language barrier with their grandparent, I wonder if many will still identify with the idea of misunderstanding each other in some way or another. In any relationship, there are so many ways to misunderstand each other. We can feel close and still feel so far away at the same time.
As a mentor text, Drawn Together can be used to spark conversations about relationships. It offers an opportunity for students to think about their own relationships and whether they recognize similarities in their own relationships or not. It's also a chance to think about how things like language differences might make growing a relationship difficult and whether there might be ways to overcome this. Student writers can then think about what relationships look like in their own writing and think about how things like language differences might impact the characters or people in their writing.
This book relies heavily on the illustrations to tell the story with the text. It's not a wordless picture book but there are several layouts without any text. I love books like this because they make it easy to focus on visual literacy. As a mentor text, readers can think about how they might describe what is happening in the illustrations and how to show this in their writing. It's a powerful way to link reading and writing.
Drawn Together is an absolutely beautiful book that everyone needs to read.
Snatch of Text:
"All the things we could never say come pouring out...
...and we build a new world that even words can't describe."