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DRAGON BRUSH by John  Solimine Kirkus Star


illustrated by John Solimine by Andy Hullinger developed by Small Planet Digital by John Solimine

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: May 23rd, 2012
Publisher: Small Planet Digital

The story of a magical dragon brush that can bring painted objects to life casts its own spell.

Bing-Wen, a slender rabbit from a poor family, loves to paint. His luck turns when he helps an old woman with an overturned cart and is awarded a paintbrush made from the whiskers of a dragon. Bing-Wen finds that everything he paints comes to life, even if the transformations don't always turn out the way he plans. When he tries to help his village by painting sources of food, the emperor is not pleased and arrests the boy. What follows is a clever reversal, in which Bing-Wen gives the emperor what he wants but in a way that saves Bing-Wen and his village. Characters are rendered in subtle, evocative colors and with appropriate, often funny detail. Artwork throughout is subtle and elegant, with Chinese-inspired touches like menu buttons in the shape of paper lanterns. But the app's greatest strength is the way it allows children to "fill in" Bing-Wen's paintings then watch them come to life. The text throughout is as clear and plainspoken as the narration, with good, punchy vocabulary. A separate painting feature is equally well-produced.

With its distinctive look, a great drawing element that's actually appropriate to the story and a moral that values cleverness over power, Bing-Wen's app is as rare and magical as the dragons he loves to paint. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)