Let’s Talk Picture Books: SHU LIN’S GRANDFATHER

Shu Lin’s grandfather by Matt Goodfellow and Yu Rong gently demonstrates the power of art to transcend language and cultural barriers.

A student named Dylan watches as new student Shu Lin begins her first day with her class. Shu Lin doesn’t speak English very well, so her classmates aren’t sure how to interact with her, sometimes even saying mean things. However, one day, Shu Lin’s grandfather comes to class with her and shares her paintings with her students. He does all of this without saying a word, and after he leaves, they all get out art supplies to make their own paintings. Speechless, Shu Lin, Dylan, and a few others find themselves working together to make something beautiful that expresses what they have in common. And new friendships begin!

Rong’s stunning illustrations were created from cut paper and pencil, so they are largely muted with large bursts of bright color that draw attention to certain details. All spreads feature a solid, colorful background, sometimes teal but usually yellow, and the illustration style is loose and soft due to the pencil. About three-quarters of the way through the book is a beautiful double cover (both pages of the spread open up into a large four-page spread) showing one of Shu Lin’s grandfather’s paintings.

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