The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam

A really successful, wordless, picture book is so incredibly difficult to create. I don’t think it’s hard to make one that is entertaining to read— once. But to make a wordless book that leaves enough room for the viewer/reader to return to it again and again is extremely tough. And… to build a book that does that and delivers a complicated, profound message, is rare and inspired.

THE LINE IN THE SAND by Thao Lam accomplishes all this. The entirely visual and wordless illustrations begin with a monster dragging a stick as he casually walks along the beach, inadvertently drawing a line in the sand as he goes.

The illustrations of monsters frolicking about and playing beachy games are full of fun, whimsy, and funny details. But two monsters look down at the line between them and wonder what it means. They try to figure out the reason for the division, which creates growing skirmishes between them. Tensions mount and escalate until a bee zigzags into the frame. Trying to get rid of the bee causes sand-kicking-chaos and entirely erases the line. The two monsters realize the silliness of their separation and the insignificant power of the “line” and resume their friendship and play with the other monsters.

Thao Lam tells this story so subtly. Full of entertaining humor that kids will enjoy. The young reader will giggle at the monsters with their multiple eyes and appendages and wonder why the two main characters would allow a mere line to keep them from participating in all this fun with their friends. What a wonderful opportunity for discussions about community, prejudice, communication, and the lines that are drawn for us, and the lines we draw ourselves.

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. Such an amazing accomplishment! Thank you for sharing this book with us.

  2. Yes!!! I, too, love this book and posted about it on my blog. Hope it gets plenty more airtime.

  3. That is profound. It is a way to enlighten children and avoid disagreement.
    Rhonda-Kay Gatlin

  4. Elizabeth McBride

    Wow! What a wonderful theme and message! Great illustrations keep it light while allowing deeper interpretations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *