Draw the Line

The opening double-page spread of Kathryin Otoshi's wordless Draw the Line depicts two children on different pages, each absorbed in drawing a line. The barefoot children are dichromatic opposites: one light-skinned with dark hair, one dark-skinned with light hair; one in a black shirt and white pants, the other in a white shirt and black pants. A swathe of brilliant yellow hovers over each child.

There is a shock of purple surprise as the two accidentally bump into each other. They laugh and begin drawing together, discovering that, when their lines touch, they become one tangible object, like a rope. The happy yellow surrounds the children at play. One of the two exuberantly leaps off with their end of the line, inadvertently yanking the other and knocking them down. The fallen child sits in purple-hazed annoyance before intentionally pulling on the line to make the other child fall. The joyous yellow dissolves over the next few spreads as the two children pull and pull until they create a dark charcoal chasm between them. The now purple and black watercolor washes across the page like a storm cloud.

Their anger quickly becomes despondence and then loneliness until one of the children discovers they can draw lines across the chasm; a tiny hint of yellow washes out the black. The children smudge the chasm out and, the line now the horizon, run off together into a radiant yellow and purple sunset.

Kathryn Otoshi (One) makes fantastic use of the gutter, the children interacting with each other from their own sides, reminiscent of Chris Raschka's 1994 Caldecott Honor Yo! Yes? Otoshi's watercolor illustrations are arresting and her characters so expressive, the youngest of readers may easily fill in the textless story for themselves. --Siân Gaetano, editor children's and YA, Shelf Awareness

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