A star! A star!

Dear Readers,

Have you ever gotten one of these on a homework assignment or a project? starWhat does it make you do? Does it make you jump up and down? Does it make you wave it all around? Does it make you scream at the top of your lungs and charge down the street full-speed ahead with your eyes shut tight?

What? It’s no longer the 70s and you can’t do that kind of stuff anymore, or they’ll medicate you? Sorry, I forgot.

Well, have you noticed that sheriff’s deputies wear them on their chests and it makes them walk with their chests puffed out?

Well, these days when you get a star, you can wear it on the internet and puff yourself out for all to see like I’m about to do here on account of my book, BRUSH OF THE GODS, which isn’t out yet, got its first STARRED REVIEW today!!!! Woooohoooo! Hoooray!

When you’re an author, getting a starred review is like getting a star on your book report. Only you wrote the thing that kids will be doing book reports on. Ooh. That means if it weren’t for authors, you wouldn’t have any book reports to do. You’d all be sitting around the fire bustin’ one another’s heads.

I digress.

Here’s Kirkus’s starred review, emailed to me by my publisher:

The following title has received its first starred review in the
May 1, 2013 issue of Kirkus Reviews (circ: 1,718):

Author: Lenore Look
Illustrator: Meilo So
Review Issue Date: May 1, 2013
Online Publish Date: April 3, 2013
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random
Pages: 40
Price ( Hardcover ): $17.99
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-375-87001-9
Category: Picture Books
The life of the classical Chinese painter Wu Daozi is imagined as a magical artistic adventure.
Look’s text is brief and impressionistic, conveying with quick brushstrokes the mythical genius of the artist and his own wonder at the miraculous work of his brush. She begins with Wu Daozi as a boy studying calligraphy but discovering that his brush has other plans: “Each day something new and surprising dripped out of Daozi’s brush,” as lively lines turn into trees, a fish, a horse. So’s friendly ink-and-watercolor paintings are a mix of graceful lines and careful detail, conveying a world in motion. The black and white of Wu Daozi’s classical-style paintings as she depicts them come alive in bright colors: A butterfly, a camel, a flying dragon fill with color and flap or step off the wall as Wu Daozi finishes painting them. A seated Buddha smiles in glorious colors as Daozi adds a last touch of his brush. Brush strokes emphasize and echo the liveliness of Wu Daozi’s work in the flying sleeves of his robe and a swirling shock of his black hair. An author’s note gives Wu Daozi’s dates and explains his importance to Chinese art, including the fact that none of his 300 frescoes have survived; a note about the legend that Wu Daozi possibly cheated death by painting himself into paradise follows the last enchanting illustration.
A cheerful introduction not only to Wu Daozi, but to the power of inspiration. (Picture book. 4-9)

This is my first work of historical fiction. I’d never heard of Wu Daozi (689-759?), China’s most famous painter, until I ran across his name while researching something else. But in China, children know him like we know Michaelangelo in the west. And they also know that he never died, he merely walked into his last painting and disappeared. When I was in China last year, the mere mention of his name inspired awe and lectures from complete strangers as though they knew him personally and had just come from watching him at work.

Here are a few pages of the F&G (Folded and Gathered unbound book), a k a galley proofs: coverThe original F&G shows “Paintbrush,” which was later corrected to “Brush,” as Wu Daozi did not use a paintbrush, per se, but a calligraphy brush. And brush has another meaning that I wanted to convey — that of being “touched.”title pageThe story begins here:IMG_5837He was an orphan in ancient China, raised and taught by monks in the monastery:IMG_5839

He first noticed movement in the smallest thing he painted:IMG_5840Meilo So’s art is so wonderful. It builds a visual crescendo from the simplicity of his boyhood to the struggle in his early years . . . IMG_5841IMG_5842to his development in his middle years:IMG_5843to the spectacular, long-awaited masterpiece at the end of his life:IMG_5844I’ll stop there.

I don’t want to spoil the ending for you.

Now I’m going to digress again.

I jot writing advice to myself in my journal all the time. This is so I won’t forget why I write, or how to write, or what makes good writing. Here’s the advice that I try to follow with every book:

“Make it all humanity and heart. A sense of mystery and wonder. Put the reader on the edge of weeping as soon as they read the first words.”

I don’t know if I will ever accomplished this rather ambitious goal, but when I saw Meilo So’s gift to this story, I wept.

Thank you, Meilo So. Thank you for the humanity, heart, mystery and wonder. Thank you for putting it all together.

And thank you, Kirkus, for the star!


The book will be released in June.

9 thoughts on “A star! A star!

  1. I was so privileged to see a small part of the book when you came to Hong Kong and now to see more is just wonderful. So happy that it has been recognised, congratulations Lenore!


  2. Hi Lenore,

    This is SO awesome!!! I had no idea you were writing about an artist. I can’t wait to read this and have already ordered my copy – for you to sign, of course.



    Sent from my iPad


  3. I can’t wait to purchase Franklin’s copy and see the children’s reactions. I’m sure they will give you more stars, but that isn’t as meaningful as a Kirkus starred review. Well done and well deserved!!
    *As a librarian, I look for starred reviews, but any book by you is at the top of my list to purchase. We cannot keep them on our shelves.


  4. Pingback: Styling Librarian Happy Book Birthday Brush of the Gods #TreatTuesday | The Styling Librarian

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