A girl learns to appreciate paintings that come from her own brush in this children’s picture book.
Scarlet, a freckle-faced, redheaded white girl, once found a magic paintbrush, and ever since, she’s been able to make any image appear perfectly on her canvases. But one day, the brush can’t be found. Her parents give her new paintbrushes, but Scarlet finds her efforts disappointing because the images aren’t “perfect”—or often, even recognizable. She tries painting with her left hand, or using a stick-and-cotton-ball implement, but perfection still eludes her. Nevertheless, she does like her new, strong lines and bold shapes. When she rediscovers the lost brush, there’s a problem: The “perfect” paintings aren’t exactly what Scarlet wants. With a regular brush, though, she can create the shapes and hues she now likes—with her own magic. Perfectionism can start young, so Stoller (Return to Coney Island, 2017, etc.) provides a useful change of perspective in this book. Although it might seem desirable to have a brush that can create faultless images, Scarlet is shown to discover a greater power in making art herself. Sonke’s (The Little i Who Lost His Dot, 2018) kinetic, detailed illustrations do a great job of conveying Scarlet’s artistic journey from the conventional to freely swirling shapes and bright colors.
A fine celebration of freedom, creativity, and self-expression.