From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Young Wu Daozi tries to please his calligraphy teacher, but his brush drips out squiggles and twists and dots, his lines turn into trees, his hooks catch fish, and "his dots burst into eyes, then pigs, and monkeys." Wu Daozi paints on walls in temples and teahouses, and even the great wall surrounding the city. His work becomes known and admired throughout China. One day he paints a butterfly so beautiful and delicate that it appears to be real. When the wind blows, the wing moves, just a little, and the butterfly suddenly flits off. Soon everything he creates either flutters, gallops, or rolls away. No one believes that his paintings come to life, except the children. Then one day, the emperor asks Daozi if he would create a masterpiece on a wall of the palace. Stunning ink, watercolor, and pencil artwork brings to life ancient China and the beautiful children who remained faithful to Daozi. Highly detailed and vibrantly colored, the illustrations render Daozi's paintings with brilliance. Children will appreciate the imaginative aspect of the text as well as the inspiring story of a boy who follows his dreams. Inviting and appealing, this title serves as a great addition to a unit on ancient China or Chinese Art.-Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Swirling back through the mists of Chinese history, collaborators Look and So bring children the story of Wu Daozi, an artist with magic in his brush. As a boy in the late seventh century, Daozi was taught calligraphy—at least the monks attempted to teach him. However, instead of letters, worms and horse tails fall from his brush, and when he takes his art into the city, his flowers and clouds are so full of vivacity and life that people from all over come to admire his work. But what’s this? As Daozi grows older, he’s startled to see the butterflies he draws take flight from the paper. A camel walks away from the wall. His crowds of followers dissipate, perhaps because they don’t believe the art has come to life, but eventually, a new generation brings him to such heights of popularity that the emperor invites Daozi to paint a magnificent mural on a palace wall—one that takes him the rest of his life. The author’s note calls this picture book a reimagined life of the painter who brought spirit and motion to Chinese art. Certainly, Look and So have dipped deep into the well of artistry and creativity to produce a book that captures Daozi’s essence. The richly colored artwork is stunning in both its scope and particulars; inky calligraphy brushstrokes accent people and places. And the words are equally well chosen: the elderly Dazoi is drenched in the moon’s silver tears. This combination of talents happily never forgets its audience in an offering as child-appealing and whimsical as it is handsome. Grades K-3. --Ilene Cooper