Review of Dadaji’s Paintbrush

Dadaji’s Paintbrush Dadaji’s Paintbrush
by Rashmi Sirdeshpande ; illus. by Ruchi Mhasane
Primary     Levine Querido    32 pp.     g
8/22     978-1-64614-172-2     $18.99

In a small village in India, a boy and his grandfather (dadaji) enjoy growing and selling fruits in the local market together, as well as reading, and making paper boats for the village children to sail down the street during the monsoon rains. Above all else, they love to paint together, and the grandfather often invites the village children to join them. When the grandfather passes away, the boy locks up all of the artwork and painting supplies; they are too painful a reminder of what he has lost. The soft, smudgy pastel illustrations capture the boy’s sense of loss by changing from warm colors to muted, dull tones. As time passes and the boy processes his grief, bursts of light and color start to creep back in. When a little girl asks the boy to teach her how to paint, it rekindles his joy and he unearths long-put-away objects, such as his grandfather’s best paintbrush. This book honors the complicated feelings of grief while offering hope and solace. The boy comes to the conclusion that the best way to honor his grandfather is by embracing, not forgetting, the things they loved to do together. Sharing his love of painting with others is how the boy knows that “his grandfather will always be with him.”

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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