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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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Little Gopher and Indian Boy, learns to paint with the brilliance of the evening sky and becomes known as He-Who-Brought-the-Sunset-to-the-Earth. This is a story about the beautiful flower, the Indian Paintbrush.
  wichitafriendsschool | Mar 25, 2016 |
All DePaola's illustrations are lovely and I really like his series of N.A. mythology, all of which have been translated into Spanish.
  ClaraN | Mar 10, 2016 |
I liked this book for several reasons. The book is a retelling of an old Native American folk tale. I liked that the colors used in the illustrations of the book change depending on what is happening in the story. For example, when the story begins out the colors used are dull beige and brown. When Little Gopher receives his prophecy in the Dream Vision that he should become a painter, the colors in the sky are bright and colorful – full of reds and oranges. When Little Gopher paints the same bright colors reappear. I also enjoyed that the sentence structure was simple enough for young readers but still detailed and full of imagery. For example, the prophets told Little Gopher “you will paint a picture that is as pure as the colors in the evening sky”. Another description of the colors was “the deepest purples of the rocks, the reddest berries, the brightest flowers”. This helps readers visualize the colors and help enhance the story. I also enjoyed the hopeful message that the folk tale sends to young readers. Little Gopher was not as strong as the other boys and could not be a warrior, but he still found something he was great at and helped the people in his tribe. The folk tale’s message is to encourage children to use their individual talents to make their world a better place. ( )
  ygurova | Feb 27, 2016 |
great book! ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
This is a great book to show that everybody has different strengths and life goals.
  mackenzie1992 | Feb 24, 2016 |
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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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