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The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie…

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

by Tomie dePaola

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This myth/legend is about Little Gopher who is a very talented artist. One night in a dream, he is told where to find brushes filled with vibrant colors. The next day he locates them and paints beautifully colored flowers called 'Indian Paintbrush'. He paints pictures of the warriors so that people could see them and remember them forever. ( )
  BayleeWestrick | Apr 13, 2015 |
A young Native American boy is not like the others in his tribe. He prefers painting to hunting. This book tells the story of how his paintbrushes "became" the flower known as Indian Paintbrush that is all over Wyoming and Texas today.
  mlbailey77 | Apr 6, 2015 |
Summary: In spring, the hills and meadows of Texas and Wyoming are ablaze with the reds, oranges, and yellows of the Indian Paintbrush. How this striking plant received its name is told in an old Indian legend.
Personal Reaction: Little Gopher is sad because he can't keep up with the other boys, but he has his own special talent which is creating and painting. Amazing use of color in the illustrations are amazing.
Classroom Extension: Use in Montana History class as an example of Native American Folklore or any other use of Native American story telling. Explore different examples of Native American creation stories, and legends. A great book to talk about differences, special talents, being true to yourself, and not giving up. ( )
  LorraineAllen | Jan 30, 2015 |
Summary: a little boy who is smaller then the other boys has a gift to paint. He see his vision and is told that he will make his people proud with his drawings. He tries many times to draw the sunset but cannot. He finally succeeds and he uses flowers for his colors. He is remembered by his people as the boy who brought the sunset to earth.

Personal Reflection: growing up my mom would read this to me and my siblings. I liked how it explained that even though the boy was small he still had a purpose. I see the "Indian Paintbrush" sometimes as we drive I see this and think of this book.

Reflection Project:
1. Have the children bring in a brown paper bag and have them draw what they think or what they have seen in the sunset.
2. Take the students outside and look at the different colors of the flowers.
3. Use this story as part of Native American month.
  BethanyKisner | Oct 24, 2014 |
The book is about a little boy who could not keep up with the other boys who were always running, wrestling, riding, and shooting their bows. But the boy had other talents. He made small toy warriors from the natural things he found. He had a dream vision a few years later that said he should paint beautiful pictures so people can remember them forever. He would paint a beautiful sunset when he found the picture canvas. He painted just like the vision said, but couldn't find the colors to paint a sunset. He longed to become a warrior like the other boys, but he remmebered his Dream-Vision and did not go with them. One night, a voice told him because "he was so faithful to his gift, he would find the colors he was looking for. " He found them where he was told, painted the picture and left the colors. Now, every spring there are beautiful plants full of color where the original paintbrushes were.
It was a book for a younger audience, someone who may wonder about the topics in the book, about 5-8 years old.
There were nice pictures on each page. but, the best picture was the one of the sunset the little boy finally got to paint. It was bright and full of color.
I would recommend this book to a parent/ child who are Native American, are interested in painting, and wonder about painting & why some plants are so many different colors. ( )
  nhassa3 | Sep 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
In this adaptation of the legend of the Indian Paintbrush flower… The story follows Little Gopher, a Native boy (no tribe indicated)… [whose] paint colors appear dull and dark. One night he hears a voice that tells him to go where he watches the evening sun, and on the ground he will find what he needs. There he is surrounded by brushes filled with paint, each one a color of the sunset. The brushes take root and are known today as Indian Paintbrush flowers. The illustrations do not reflect Plains material culture.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tomie dePaolaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description

Little Gopher is upset in the beginning of the story because he is smaller then the other children and he can not keep up with their strength. When he grows a bit older, he goes to the hills alone to think about becoming a man. This is where the Dream-Vision occurs. The young Indian Maiden and the old grandfather in the clouds gave Little Gopher a rolled-up animal skin, a brush made of fine animal hairs, and pots of paints. They told him to paint pictures of deeds of warriors, visions of the shaman, and a picture pure as the colors in the evening sky. Little Gopher gathered flowers and berries to make his paints, and painted pictures of great hunts and great deeds. He struggled with finding the colors of the sunset. He often looked at the colors of the sky and did not give up on this task. One night he heard voices in the sky telling him to go to the hillside where he sees the sun set and he will find what he needs. The next evening, in this place Little Gopher found brushes filled with paint the colors of the sunset on the ground all around him. Little Gopher finally painted a picture pure as the colors in the evening sky. He left his brushes on the ground and returned to the village. The next morning, the hillside was covered with plants of brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows. The brushes had taken root and multiplied. Now every spring the ground is covered with these beautiful plants and Little Gopher is praised for being the person who brought the sunset to the earth.

The Native American culture is best described through its use of traditional literature. Much understanding of their ways and beliefs can be found through the study of their legends. Although stories of Native American warrior’s brutality, war, and fighting do exist, these people were mostly about peace with others and kindness toward our earth. “The Legend of the Indain Paintbrush” is a beautiful, well-written example of how the Native Americans believe the people, earth, and sky are all connected. The beginning of the story also reflects the true value that each tribe places upon each individual person in that tribe. dePaola writes, “The wise shaman of the tribe understood that Little Gopher had a gift that was special.” The Native Americans believe that each person, animal, plant, etc. has a purpose and can be used to benefit the well-being of others.

This story along with other De Paola stories would be excellent for a genre study in the classroom. It is easy to pick out elements of a legend and it would be fun to see kids compare these legends.
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Little Gopher follows his destiny, as revealed in a Dream-Vision, of becoming an artist for his people and eventually is able to bring the colors of the sunset down to the earth.

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