HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8My Writing And Reading Life: Minh Lê, Author of Drawn Together

My Writing And Reading Life: Minh Lê, Author of Drawn Together

The Children’s Book Review | June 5, 2018

Minh Lê

Minh Lê

Minh Lê is a writer but, like his grandfather, is a man of few words. He is a national early childhood policy expert, author of Let Me Finish! (illustrated by Isabel Roxas), and has written for the New York Times, the Horn Book, and the Huffington Post. A first-generation Vietnamese-American, he went to Dartmouth College and has a master’s in education from Harvard University. Outside of spending time with his beautiful wife and sons in their home near Washington, DC, Minh’s favorite place to be is in the middle of a good book.

I write because …

Connecting to readers (particularly children) through the pages of a book is the best kind of magic.

I read because …

It’s both my escape from the world and how I process/make sense of the world. It’s a powerful thing to lose yourself in a book and then re-emerge to see the world with a new clarity.

My latest published book is …

Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat, who won the 2015 Caldecott for The Adventures of Beekle.

I wrote this book because …

I wanted to pay tribute to my grandparents, particularly my grandfather who passed away last year. The story is about a boy and his grandfather struggling to connect because of a language barrier. They eventually find a way to bridge that language gap through a mutual love of art. My grandfather spoke almost exclusively Vietnamese and I spoke mainly English, so our relationship was often defined by what we could not say to each other. In a way, this book is me trying to take comfort in the fact that, despite everything we left unsaid, the bond between us was stronger than words.

Best moment …

Best book-related moment was seeing my then 4 year old son reading my debut book (Let Me Finish) with my parents for the first time.

My special place to write is …

My commute to and from the day job. Not exactly “special,” but with two young kids and a full-time job, any time I have to squeeze in writing/brainstorming is special.

Necessary writing/creativity tool …

Insomnia. It’s not convenient, but inspiration usually strikes hardest for me in the middle of the night. If I can’t fall asleep because an idea has sunk its teeth into me, then I know I’m onto something.

The person who has been my greatest writing teacher or inspiration is …

My wife, Aimee. Without her, it’s likely that my writing never would have made it out of the pile of dusty Moleskines under my desk. She inspires me, gives me a kick in the pants when I need it, and is also my first editor. I never send anything off without getting the green light from her first.

Currently reading …

ALL THE BOOKS. I’m a judge for this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, so I’m furiously trying to read all the picture books, middle grade, and young adult books published from June 2017 through May 2018. (Note: please send coffee.)

Favorite bookshop …

I’ll always have a soft spot for the wonderful Politics & Prose, but two newer DC favorites that people should know about are: East City Bookshop, which always has fantastic book kidlit displays and the dynamic Duende District, a mobile bookstore that travels around the DC region to bring a high-quality, diverse selection of books to readers, especially those in communities of color.

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t write …

This is an impossible question to answer, but a recent one that I’m totally obsessed with is: The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and Julia Kuo. I describe it as “a guided meditation led by Christopher Robin,” which is about as strong an endorsement as I can give a book. For an older pick, I consider Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine by Evaline Ness to be a nuanced and absolutely jaw-dropping work of art.

Favorite illustrator …

There are so many great illustrators working today, but I’m going to play it safe by picking someone who’s not around anymore… Arnold Lobel. Every Frog and Toad illustration just feels so lived-in. It never occurs to me that he actually created these scenes because it feels like we just happened to stumble upon them.

A literary character I would like to vacation with …

Funny thing about reading kidlit as an adult is that I find myself really noticing the grown-ups, those bit players who make up the constellation of supporting characters surrounding the young protagonists. A recent favorite is Mrs. Reegs, a friendly (and stylish) librarian from The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh. According to her students, one Mrs. Reegs’ superpowers is “finding the right books for the right people.” Now that’s someone I would totally take a roadtrip with.

When I am not reading or writing I am …

Snuggling with my wife and two young sons… which, I admit is kind of cheating because in our house snuggling also usually involves reading or telling stories.

To learn more, visit: minhlebooks.com or on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

Drawn-Together-High-ResolutionDrawn Together

Written by Minh Lê

Illustrated by Dan Santat

Publisher’s Synopsis: 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 picturebook about reaching across barriers will be cherished for years to come.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1484767603

Available Here: 

Discover more books like Drawn Together, written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with , and ; plus, be sure to follow along with our Writing and Reading Life series.

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