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The Brush of the Gods

Written By | Aug 3, 2013

SILVER SPRING, Md, August 3, 2013 – The story is based on traditional Chinese folklore about a famous painter name Wu Daozi. The story begins with Daozi trying to learn calligraphy in school, but instead of drawing the Chinese characters he was being taught, his brush produced pictures. He loved painting so much that he began painting the walls around his small town. As time passed, he became better and better, and people all over the country came to admire his work.

One day he painted a butterfly that looked so real it flew off the wall. Daozi had trouble taming his artwork, and the wall around the city remained blank as his horses galloped away and the birds took flight. Finally, he learned how to paint landscapes, that contained waterfalls that really fell and trees that swayed in the breeze.

Photo by Robynlou Kavanagh.


One day the emperor came to admire Daozi’s work. After smelling some of the flowers in his artwork, the emperor commissioned Daozi to create a grand masterpiece inside his palace. But such large pieces of work take a long time to paint, and Daozi became an old man over the years it took to finish. When the mural was complete the emperor held a great celebration so that the people could see the new mural. When Daozi unveiled the masterpiece, he declared it was paradise and walked into his own painting and disappeared.

The story in The Brush of the Gods is beautifully brought to life by the watercolor artwork of Meilo So, whose style is evocative of the Chinese artist who is the subject of this tale. The book itself is better for older children as there are many words per page lending itself to longer attention spans. Also, the subject matter may bore younger children. This book would be best used to teach about art or Chinese culture and heritage.

Photo by J. Aaron Farr. Click to enlarge.


Lenore Look is the author of 13 other children’s books ranging from picture books to young readers.  She has won the Gryphon Honor Award, the National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Medal, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award, among numerous others.

Illustrator Meilo So has provided the artwork for six other children’s books.

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look and illustrated by Meilo So (ISBN: 9780375870019) was published on June 25, 2013 by Random House Children’s Books. It is available as a hardcover or ebook.


Brighid Moret also writes children’s picture book reviews at Big Reads For Little Hands. Read more about parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.

Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer, mother and reader. She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Find her on Twitter @BrighidMoret, or follow @BigReadsLittleH for the latest children's book reviews.