August 22


“Draw the Line” by Kathryn Otoshi

We’ve all been there…

That feeling of being overwhelmed, overworked, and yes, even underappreciated. A few years back, I was feeling stretched too thin, saying  ‘yes’ to too many things and not giving myself enough downtime for my art and creativity. Then it dawned on me. I needed to draw clearer boundaries!

Suddenly I saw a stark visual “line” becoming a clear metaphor for our own boundaries –thus “Draw the Line” was born. We can walk the line, jump the line, read in between the lines, and can even cross a line.

I grabbed a black pencil and started to go with it.


Then the book took on a whole new meaning when the concept of “other” was introduced into the story.

What happens when someone else walks into your life and pushes their own agenda on you?  Especially when that “other” person might seem very different or even opposite from you? We negotiate, push, pull, stretch and our lines sometimes get frayed in our relationships with others. I felt the illustrations for the boys should be “black and white” at first. The use of colors came later (thanks to my editor, Connie Hsu – see I was listening!), and I realized they could signify emotions as well.

Thus the concepts in the book became very layered: our linear thinking vs. our circular thinking,  our understanding of “other” and our own identities; friendship and conflict, and of course, the question that begs addressing throughout the whole book: where exactly do we draw the line? And how do we mend it if it tears?

The transition of the line going from a frayed line to a crack took many renditions. And even the final resolution for the conflict in the story didn’t come easy. But like life, the story became an evolutionary process, ever shifting , ever changing, sometimes pushing, sometimes pulling with a goal to reach for the greater vision of working together.


With today’s climate, we need to know more than ever where are ‘edges’ lie, but also how we can join forces together whenever and wherever we can connect them. It sometimes feels difficult — even impossible when we feel the “other” isn’t listening. So as a start, we need to start building bridges wherever we can ,and close gaps that aren’t so far away.

When we read an inspirational story, we open up our hearts, minds and develop critical thinking …but most of all what we give our youngest members of the human race – is hope.  What better way to start talking with our kids than through reading and the power of children’s literature.





Kathryn Otoshi is an award-winning author/illustrator, best known for her number/color book series: One, Zero, Two and Beautiful Hands, all  character-bulding books that promote kindness, empathy and building community.  She travels across the country to encourage children to develop strong character assets and to help teachers find creative methods to engage and connect with their students through the power of reading, art, and literature. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Draw the Line” is her first book with Roaring Brook Press.