Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi, 1980.
In the company of Han Gan and The Boy Who Drew Cats, Liang can draw things that become real and alive. He has the strong desire to paint and is driven away from an art school because he is only a beggar, but one night an old man riding a phoenix appears and gives him a magical paintbrush. He paints both useful things and toys for his poor friends. To make his living, he sells paintings of birds in the marketplace, but he always leaves a detail out to keep them from springing to life. One day, something happens that draws the attention of the greedy emperor. He demands that Liang give him the brush, and when he will not, and will not draw what he is commanded, the ruler has the boy imprisoned. The emperor tries to draw himself riches, but the magic fails. To prevent him from ruining the magic brush, Liang agrees to paint what the emperor wills. Yet, Liang and his magic paintbrush are enough to defeat the monarch and go back to aiding the poor.
Demi has illustrated her retelling with subtle watercolor paintings. Her books The Firebird (retold & illustrated) and Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake (retold by Ann Tompert, illus. by Demi) are also described on this blog.