Written by: Lenore Look
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Published in 2013
Genre: Picture Book
Grade Level: K-3
Summary: Brush of the Gods is a retelling of the legend of Wu Daozi, one of China’s greatest painters. In this book we see Daozi (who is well known for having depicted movement in his paintings) learning and growing as a painter, eventually becoming so good that his paintings come to life. His artwork catches the attention of the public, and eventually he is contracted by the emperor to paint a landscape on the palace walls. It is said that he escaped death by entering this painting and disappearing.
I was intitially drawn to this book by the cover artwork. I love reading books with a basis in China, Japan, and Korea, so I jumped at the chance to read this story. The cover is beautiful, and the illustrations throughout the book do not disappoint. The colors are vibrant, and the pictures do fabulous job of telling the story. The illustrations are placed alongside the text in a way that leaves you with the knowledge that no part of the page was wasted. It is a beautiful read.
Unfortunately, the text did not wow me nearly as much as the illustrations. While there was nothing particularly bad about the story, I found it to be boring. The pacing, along with the way the author worded some parts, just felt awkward. The legend itself is interesting, but the way it retold left something to be desired.
Final Thoughts: This book is beautifully illustrated and has an interesting backstory. If the writing had been more fluid I might have given it five stars… but it wasn’t. All in all, it was a good book, but not the best.
I give Brush of the Gods four stars.