A BRUSH WITH MAGIC by William J. Brooke


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Age Range: 9 - 13
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 The author of two collections of splendidly witty extensions of favorite tales (A Telling of the Tales; Untold Tales) expands a Chinese folktale to novel length. Old Li raises a baby he finds floating in the river. But the indigent farmer is ignorant of the purpose of the paintbrush he finds in Liang's basket; and when the boy begins to experiment with it, Li's so impatient--he considers it a waste of time--that he even fails to see that the boy's paintings come to life. In time, Liang acquires real paint (he's been using mud); goes to court, where the Emperor's greed provides more opportunities for satire; has a number of close shaves involving a human-faced monkey (his own creation) and the princess's pretty servant girl; and discovers his tragic origins. Quick-witted Liang paints himself out of every predicament (a dragon and a ship are among his larger artifacts), meanwhile learning that his true magic is not in the brush but in his own creativity (an insight somewhat muddled by the fact that others also use the brush, though with problematic results). Brooke is less quizzically philosophical, his comedy less farcical in this more discursive format; still, he's fashioned a fast-moving fantasy, well embellished with clever details and sure to amuse readers. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-022973-X
Page count: 138pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1993