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The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie…

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

by Tomie dePaola

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Visually amazing and topically important, this book highlights the best of this reading genre. The illustrations which are geographically accurate and represented nicely. This Native tale of hope, faith and promise is a culturally diverse tale appropriate for all readers and classrooms. The accurate use and portrayal of Native imagery and culture provides an inside into American life that is often covered in stereotypes.
  cpwpsu | Mar 16, 2014 |
“The legend of the Indian paintbrush” is a folk tale retold through a children’s book. The book tells the story of a young Indian boy who isn’t a warrior but found his meaning and place in life. The two biggest things in this story appeals to me and I would hope the students who are similar to me, it would appeal to them too. My family comes from Native Americans or Indian heritage however how little it may be. This connection drew me to it and I was happy to learn more about my heritage. One thing that excited me from a big picture point of view was the fact that they were depicting Indians in a different way than the typical cowboys and Indians, or Pocahontas type of story. This folk tale dove into how the Native Americans viewed the world and it was interesting to see it from their point of view. It was also refreshing to read a story about Indians because from what I have seen there aren’t as many Native American children books. The second thing that I felt was powerful was the message of the story. The message being even if you are not the biggest kid, not the strongest, or the fastest you can still do great things just by being you. Which is what the main character did and he brought joy and art to their world. So the world thanked him by giving the people new colorful flowers, and his tribe later gives him a name more fitting of what he had done for his people. ( )
  drhode3 | Mar 6, 2014 |
Everybody has their proper place within their society. Sometimes it is doing what everyone else does but other times, it's deviating from that normal path. Regardless, if you pursue this wholeheartedly, you will earn your place.
The portrayal of the people in the illustrations were true in that they were two-dimensional. Meaning that (in most cases) the face was profile, only showing one side of the face. The clothing illustrated were very accurate to the culture along with the teepees and pots. The painting Little Gopher did would be identical to actual Native American drawings. There were also a brilliant use of bright colors everywhere which is also very common among the Native American culture.
  Vania_Coates | Jun 4, 2013 |
Genre: Legend ( )
  aharesnape | Apr 14, 2013 |
Little gopher dreams of painting in order for his people to really enjoy him. He bases his colors and paints off of the beautiful sunset in the sky. ( )
  caitlin.wester | Dec 11, 2012 |
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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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