The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam (a wordless book)

Although I’m a writer, I’m fascinated by stories told without words. So often, we use more words than necessary, both in everyday lives and in storytelling. Yet stories are so powerful that they can be conveyed in many ways, including just through pictures. The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam is an adorable, thought-provoking story told without words—just with pictures.

The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam

I received this book for review courtesy of the publicist; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Line in the Sand plot summary

The Line in the Sand is about a group of monsters playing on a beach. Then one monster wanders across the beach dragging a stick behind him and creates a line. Two monsters who notice this line aren’t sure what it means. Through expressions and gestures, we see these monsters trying to figure out the meaning of the line. Clearly, they aren’t happy with it or with each other. The line gets a bit smudged as they argue.

And then a bee flies past. As both monsters wildly try to scare the bee away, they obliterate the line. When the dust settles (long after the bee flies away), the line has disappeared. The monsters look around. There are now lines all over the beach, as the stick-dragging monster has continued wandering this way and that. The two monsters realize just how silly their argument was and begin to laugh together.

4-year-old boy reading The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam.

Why We Liked this Book

We read a lot of books. All of my kids are voracious book worms who love curling up on the couch to read or listen to a good story. Even my four-year-old, who can’t yet read on his own, often sits down on the couch with a picture book or graphic novel and quietly, studiously turns the pages, studying the pictures. Books like The Line in the Sand are a great introduction to reading for pre-readers, because they can understand the story via the pictures, without anyone having to read to them.

Beyond the way that a wordless book helps pre-readers being to enjoy reading, the story itself is also thought-provoking. My kids always have tons of questions about what we are reading, which starts some really good discussions about characters, plot and other things in the book. The Line in the Sand let us discuss what the monsters might be thinking or saying, based on their expressions and actions.

For me, The Line in the Sand raised two great points in a way that kids can understand. The obvious moral of the story is that a random line divides two monsters. It can make us think about the hypothetical lines that we draw in our own lives, between “me” and “you.” Usually, these lines are invisible, and we don’t even stop to think about them, but through this story, we can stop to consider how, simply by being on different sides of something causes us to disagree. Do we need to disagree with someone who lives somewhere else? thinks something else? wears something else? Or can we just shrug at the line and carry on playing on the beach, as the monsters do at the end of the story?

The other point in this story is that two monsters jumped into an argument without knowing all the facts. The two monsters didn’t see who created the line. They didn’t know why it was there. Instead of asking those questions, they just began arguing over the line. I saw this happen recently in social media, where one person began to rant about a recent event in the news without having all the facts. She cast blame and drew conclusions just based on what she saw, without asking any further questions about the event or doing more research.

I’ve seen this happen in our family, too, when one child does something without thinking and a different child, affected by that action, ascribes a negative motive to it that wasn’t actually present. In that case, we can ask whether this line was drawn on purpose to divide, or whether someone was just having fun by themselves without realizing how the line affected everyone else on the beach.

4-year-old boy reading The Line in the Sand by Thao Lam.

Of course, our pre-readers enjoying the adorable monsters in this book won’t pull those morals out immediately. This is a story they’ll enjoy again and again, and as they read and absorb the story, we can slowly point them in the direction of the morals behind an excellent story.

The Line in the Sand is available from Owlkids, Amazon, and your favourite local bookstore.

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