Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Bridge Between! Drawn Together by Min Le and Dan Santat

When a determinedly cheerful mom drops her son off after school at the doorstep of a small house, the boy clearly is not happy. He trudges dutifully up to the door, his backpack heavy on his shoulders and his eyes downcast, and rings the bell.

He's met by an old man, his grandfather, but there are no greetings exchanged. The grandfather bows, his hands together in salutation, and the boy returns the gesture glumly. They seem to know no words in common.

The grandfather turns on the television, but the boy gets little out of the drama, aside from the presence of a dragon in the story. Bored, the boy pulls some colored pencils and paper out of his backpack and begins to draw a spirited young wizard with a wand and powers to vanquish a dragon. The grandfather suddenly smiles and leaves the room, returning with a sketch book, a tiny brush, and an inkwell.

Taking a seat beside the boy he draws a marvelous ancient Asian sorcerer who dispatches the dragon with a broadsword. The boy's eyes are alight as he draws his wizard by the side of his grandfather's sorcerer. Together they create a magnificent magical story.

All the things we could never say come pouring out....

Art is the medium which bridges the gap of age and language between the two as each realize what they share together, in Min Le's wordless Drawn Together (Hyperion, 2018). Inside the unspoken narrative, artist Dan Santat works his visual magic in illustrations that show the two relatives doing their favorite thing together, as both realize that they do indeed share the bond of kinship and a love of art. It is a beautiful story of family love and generational connection, with artist Santat making the most of the opportunity to show off his versatile talents in two different styles, in a book that can be "read" by all ages. A beautiful book that speaks volumes about the ties that bind grandfathers and grandsons.

Says Publishers Weekly "Santat's work dazzles with layers of color, exquisitely worked tradional designs, and ambitious scale. With the grandfather drawing in his idom and the boy in his, the two defeat the dragon of difference that separates them."

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