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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

The Line in the Sand

by (author) Thao Lam

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Humorous Stories, Imagination & Play
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
1 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


Critically acclaimed creator Thao Lam, author of The Paper Boat and THAO, is back with a wordless story about conflict resolution

A monster meanders down a beach, dragging a stick behind them and leaving a line in the sand. Meanwhile, a group of friends is at play—flying kites, building sandcastles, tossing a ball—until two of them become curious about the line that now seemingly divides them.

What does the line mean? Tensions mount as the two ponder the situation. Should the line be crossed? Can it be crossed? Eyes narrow, feathers get ruffled, and a scuffle starts, stemming from a series of misunderstandings and aggravated by the innocent, and very untimely, arrival of a bee. It’s only when their stomping and kicking has completely erased the line in the sand that the friends realize their scrabble was senseless. They rejoin the others at play, where the line becomes part of their games, while in the background, the line’s creator continues to meander across the page, oblivious to the impact of their actions.

This powerful wordless story, told in panels and illustrated in striking collage art, is at once simple, relatable, and profound and will encourage readers to think about conflict, communication, and the meaning of the lines we all draw, whether intentional or not.

About the author

THAO Lam has been creating pictures for as long as she can remember. For her, drawing has always felt as natural as breathing. She has an insatiable love for coloured and textured papers, which she uses to create her exuberant collages. Passionate about children’s books, Thao is especially interested in visual storytelling. She draws inspiration from the stories she hears, from the beauty in everyday things, and from the work of the many illustrators she admires. As an art buyer for an education publishing company, she has the opportunity to work with thousands of different artists from all around the world. Since studying illustration for three years at Sheridan College in Toronto, Thao has developed her dual careers of illustrating and art buying. Her art works have appeared in publications such as Cricket and Highlight magazines. In 2008, she won the Highlights Five Pewter Plate award for verse illustration of the year. She has twice been chosen for the American Illustration Award. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Thao Lam's profile page


  • Commended, A Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Commended, A CBC Best Canadian Picture Book of 2022
  • Commended, 150 Most Anticipated Fall Books

Editorial Reviews

"This wordless book asks 'what is a line in the sand?' as it explores issues of conflict and communication. As with any wordless story, this tale is what readers make of it. Can be used as a story starter for older children or simply as a visual treasure for younger children to enjoy."

Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database

"The story speaks volumes of imagined differences and the negative impact of imposed divisions ... An elegant, profound story. A monstrously important message."

Kirkus Reviews - STARRED REVIEW

"Deceptively simple ... A parent, caregiver, or teacher could use this book to stimulate a conversation about how the message applies to real-world conflict, whether on the playground or on the world stage."

Canadian Review of Materials

"Division, conflict, risk and joy are all captured in the pages of this tale."

The Small Protagonist

"Without a single word, Lam has communicated a master class in conflict resolution."

Quill & Quire - STARRED REVIEW

"Wordless picture books can be incredibly powerful, and the messaging in this story is clearly about camaraderie and understanding that transcends boundaries, either perceived or real."


"The concept is clever and the playful art a delight ... Another wordless winner from Lam, who knows how to posit questions and trust readers for answers."

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

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