Not that we need an excuse to celebrate museums, but isn’t it nice to have an official National Museum Day on May 18th? Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look, illustrated by Meilo So is a wonderful book to kick off your celebration. Wu Daozi (689-758) is still known as China’s greatest painter–but surprisingly, little has been written about him for children. The team of Look and So create a vivid and intriguing picture about Wu Daozi’s life, his work, and his creativity. As a young boy learning the art of calligraphy from a monk, Wu Daozi finds his brush simply won’t behave. Instead of characters, his brush takes off on flights of fancy, drawing flying Buddhas and dancing peonies. His hooks catch fish, and “his dots burst into eyes, then pigs and monkeys.” Soon, his paintings are so realistic they come to life (though no one but the children believe it). The emperor comes to appreciate Daozi’s work, though, and commissions him to paint a masterpiece on a wall of the palace. It becomes a mural that takes him the rest of his life to complete, a kind of museum in the palace. A beautifully illustrated book that children as young as three will enjoy poring over–and adults will want to keep on their coffee tables. In addition to this picture book, you might also want to take a look at some of our other museum-themed recommendations, listed below with links to the posts.
Happy National Museum Day!