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Drawn together
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2018
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Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

ATTICUS FINCH: The Biography, by Joseph Crespino. (Basic Books, $27.) This biography of the much-loved fictional character from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" brings to life the inconsistencies of the South and of Lee's father, who was the model for the real Atticus. BEARSKIN, by James A. McLaughlin. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) Terrible things are happening to black bears in this debut mystery set in western Virginia. And the humans facing off against the novel's ex-con hero, now charged with protecting a wilderness preserve, are just as terrible. THE WORLD AS IT IS: A Memoir of the Obama White House, by Ben Rhodes. (Random House, $30.) In this humane and amiable insider's account of the Obama years, Rhodes traces his intellectual evolution as a key adviser to the president. Starry-eyed at the beginning, he learns to temper his idealism, but in a crass political era, he impressively avoids becoming a cynic. TYRANT: Shakespeare on Politics, by Stephen Greenblatt. (Norton, $21.95.) The noted Shakespeare scholar finds parallels between our political world and that of the Elizabethans - and in his catalog of the plays' tyrannical characters, locates some very familiar contemporary types. THERE THERE, by Tommy Orange. (Knopf, $25.95.) Orange's devastatingly beautiful debut novel, about a group of characters converging on the San Francisco Bay Area for an event called the "Big Oakland Powwow," explores what it means to be an urban Native American. A VIEW OF THE EMPIRE AT SUNSET, by Caryl Phillips. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Set in England, France and the Caribbean, Phillips's fragmented novel uses the difficult, lonely life of the half-Welsh, half-West-Indian writer Jean Rhys (author of "Wide Sargasso Sea") to explore themes of alienation, colonialism and exile. THE MORALIST: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made, by Patricia O'Toole. (Simon & Schuster, $35.) O'Toole focuses on the public deeds of a president who has become a source of almost endless controversy. She describes a politician deft at shifting his views to gain power and achieve important reforms. PURE HOLLYWOOD: And Other Stories, by Christine Schutt. (Grove, $23.) These expert stories by a Pulitzer finalist are awash in money, lush foliage and menace, in prose so offbeat it's revelatory. DRAWN TOGETHER, by Minh Le. Illustrated by Dan Santat. (Hyperion, $17.99; ages 4 to 8.) In this picture book, a boy and his grandpa, who doesn't speak English, sit glumly until they begin to draw a comic-book epic together, bridging the language and generational divide in a way that's at once touching and thrilling. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books

  Booklist Review

*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

  Kirkus Review

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.
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.
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