Today we’re thrilled to share a glimpse inside of Brush of the Gods, a new picture book by Lenore Look, illustrated by Meilo So. If both of those names sound familiar to you, it’s because they’re both celebrated talents. Lenore is the author of the beloved Alvin Ho series, as well as several acclaimed picture books, including Henry’s First-Moon Birthday, Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding (both of which received three starred reviews and were named ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Books!) and, recently, Polka Dot Penguin Pottery. Meilo previously illustrated such gorgeous, evocative titles as Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs, Janet Schulman’s Pale Male, and Antoine ÓFlatharta’s Hurry and the Monarch.
Brush of the Gods tells the life story of Wu Daozi (689-758), widely considered to be China’s greatest painter, who lived during the T’ang Dynasty—with an imaginative spin. When an old monk attempts to teach young Daozi about the ancient art of calligraphy, his brush rebels. Instead of characters, it drips dancing peonies and flying Buddhas. Soon, others are admiring his unbelievable creations on the walls around the city… and one day his art actually comes to life.
What makes this book so special is that it can be introduced to children on many different levels: as a introduction to Chinese culture, as a look at an incredible artist, and a meditation on the importance of creativity and occasionally straying outside of the lines. Though the story takes a fantastical turn, Lenore consulted translations of T’ang poetry and essays in order to piece together Daozi’s life. The combination of her careful research and Meilo’s eye-catching, fluid art is nothing short of spectacular:
(All illustrations © 2013 by Meilo So and should not be reproduced anywhere without permission.)