Dadaji’s ­Paintbrush

Levine Querido. Aug. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646141722.
K-Gr 3–Some big ideas float effortlessly through these sweet watercolor pages: love between grandparent and child; acceptance of mistakes, loss, and change; life’s small pleasures; and the life-enhancing gifts of sharing and teaching. Southwestern India, or the state of Goa, is suggested through hints of architecture and color-splashed flourishes of vegetation; the characters sit on the floor, using a vintage floor-desk. A boy and his devoted grandfather grow and give away mangoes and bananas, make paper boats for the village children, and read and paint together. No other family members are mentioned, and though the older man has promised never to leave, “One day, he did.” The boy, perhaps ten, is bereft (here, gray-washed spreads prevail), and locks away all evidence of painting. But after some time has passed, a small girl asks him to teach her, and soon the house is again filled with children, colors, and happiness. The boy, readers understand, knows that his grandfather did not really break his promise.
VERDICT An extraordinary work for every shelf; subtle and poetically less direct than other works in its treatment of death, this book stands out for the depth of its wise messages, and its gentle, evocative art.

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