Tag Archives: dan santat

Beyond words

drawn togetherSome years ago, I took my then infant son with me to visit a friend and her mother for coffee.  They were both from Bosnia, and my friend’s mom spoke some English, but did not get much of a chance to practice it.  We all chatted for a while, and then my son woke up, happy and ready for attention.  My friend’s mom picked him up and toured him around the house, happily describing everything to him in Bosnian.  Did he care?  No.  Was he suddenly in love with my friend’s mom?  Yes.  She tickled his belly.  She made faces.  She was a dream.  Little ones really don’t care what language you speak as long as you are speaking to them.  Being the center of attention works in any language.

Once you’re a little older, having a relationship with someone who doesn’t speak the same language can be a little more challenging until you find the ways you can communicate beyond words.  And that’s pretty much this book.

It is a perfect and wonderful book.  The words are perfect; the art is perfect.  And there is so much love in it.  What a joyful reminder of the special relationships grandparents can have with their grandchildren, no matter what lives they’ve left behind.

Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat

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One word, many emotions

dudeTry to imagine that you want to tell a story using just one word.  There are highs.  There are lows.  There is excitement and fear and joy.  Then imagine that word is “dude.”

This one is great for talking with kids about expression and what a difference the sound of a word makes when you read it and hear it, and is also a nice way to talk about the importance of punctuation.

Note the “word by Aaron Reynolds” at the top of the cover.  The revision process must have been awful for him.  Almost wordless.  Pretty wonderful.

Dude!  by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat

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Humpty Dumpty self-help

AfterTheFall_JCKT_09a.inddHumpty’s life is shattered, much like his shell.

The freedom he felt at the top of the wall?  Gone!  The power of looking down on the city and seeing the birds fly?  Vanished!

Fortunately for Humpty, a serendipitous accident will bring him back to his true self and set him free.

After the Fall by Dan Santat

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Of dads and bravery

dadandthedinosaurObjects can be magical things to small children.  My son used to say goodnight to all kinds of things in his room – the picture of Thomas the Tank Engine, his stuffed animals, even the lamp on occasion.  When he was in preschool, he wore a laminated picture of us (Mom and Dad) around his neck for several weeks.  He got very sad when we left him in the morning, and he could feel like we were with him if he had the picture.  (Meltdowns solved!)

So I grok Nicholas and his dinosaur.  He doesn’t feel brave, but the dinosaur is like a rabbit’s foot– magically making him feel confident enough to scale walls, score goals, get through his day.  Then, horror of horrors, the dinosaur goes missing!  He doesn’t say anything to Mom about it, but he mentions it to Dad, who understands how important it is, takes Nicholas on a late-night expedition to find it, and honors the dinosaur’s place in Nicholas’s life.  Some parents might just say, “Fine.  Lose the dinosaur.  Too bad.”  But once in a while, finding the lost thing means that it’s easier to move on from it later on.  I loved the book, and it’s a great book for dads, showing them as the important and caring guys so many dads are.

None of this excellence comes as a surprise.  Gennifer Choldenko has written some of my favorite middle grade novels of all time.  Dan Santat has illustrated some of my favorite picture books.  Feel free to collaborate again, you two!

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko and Dan Santat

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