Minh Lê: Yes! I would say it's based/inspired by my relationship with my grandfather specifically, but is also a tribute to all my grandparents.
Vietnamese was my first language (there's even video to prove it), but I let it slip away, which means much of our relationship was defined by what we could not say to each other.
For us it was a literal language barrier, but as you know, you can also speak the same language and still have trouble communicating/connecting. It's been so touching to already hear of Drawn Together resonating for people with all different kinds of personal experiences.
Unfortunately, my grandfather and I never really quite figured out how to fully bridge the language gap, but I still always felt a strong connection to him. And there was never any doubt about the love between us.
What ran through your head the first time you saw Dan Santat’s illustrations for Drawn Together?
Minh Lê: I was absolutely speechless. I have always been a fan of Dan's work, so to see him apply his talent and energy to making magic out of my words was a breathtaking experience.
I was also floored by how much Dan brought his own experience/culture to our book. As an author, the dream is to write a manuscript that touches something in the illustrator; that the illustrator will take the slim collection of words and breathe their own life into it. I think it's obvious that Dan put so much thought and heart into this project, so I am forever grateful to him (and my editor Rotem) for bringing this story to life in such stunning fashion.
(I am also very grateful that he didn't break his wrist painting, because HOLY WOW did you see the incredible detailing on the grandfather's outfit??)
On a bittersweet note, I got the first round of Dan's sketches while my grandfather was on his deathbed... and he passed away earlier this year. So while he will sadly never see the finished product, he knew that it was in the works... and it means the world to me that he will be honored through this book.
|Illustration Credit: Dan Santat|
How will you celebrate Drawn Together’s book birthday on June 5, 2018?
Minh Lê: By doing my favorite thing in the world: sharing the book at my local bookstore and library!
Please finish these sentence starters:
Picture books are the most accessible and versatile works of art in the world.
School libraries are NOT OPTIONAL.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…Why do your former students call you Mr. Rogers?
Because I used to wear cardigans ALL THE TIME. "Which is a fashion choice that I actually picked up, not from Mr. Rogers, but from... my grandfather."