cover image Brush of the Gods

Brush of the Gods

Lenore Look, illus. by Meilo So. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-87001-9

Look (the Alvin Ho series) blends mystical realism and biography to create a magical portrait of one of ancient China’s famous artists, Wu Daozi. As a boy during the T’ang Dynasty in the seventh century, Daozi is unable to conform in calligraphy class. Instead, “His straight lines splintered into trees. His hooks caught fish. His dots burst into eyes.” Later known for his dynamic murals, Daozi paints subjects so realistically they seem to come alive (“Daozi’s birds fluttered away. His horses galloped into the mountains”). The young artist’s cherubic face with big, black eyes and plump, rosy cheeks will pull readers in at the first page; the brisk narrative and vibrant spreads will keep them reading. So’s (Water Sings Blue) breezy ink-and-watercolor illustrations evoke Daozi’s flowing style. In some scenes, her naïve paintings showcase detailed patterns and myriad colors, like the spread of a mural unveiling featuring vivid banners, buildings, musicians, and dancers. Other spreads of Daozi practicing his craft alone employ a more limited color palette. A fine biographical tribute to the enchanting power of art. Ages 4–8. (June)