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The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie…
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The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

by Tomie dePaola

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Summary:The story begins with a Native American child who longs to be like the other warrior children, but seems to smaller and always be lagging behind. Through the help of the Shaman and the boys dream vision he is able to find comfort in his own ability to be a painter, and to be able to record the tribes hunts, deeds of the warriors, and shamans so they will live throughout history. The boy is challenged to paint a picture of the sunset, although he struggles, he never gives up. He efforts are rewarded by all the colors needed to paint the sunset.
Person Reaction: This book is completely heart warming. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the over-all story just feels to authentic. I think it is incredible that the boy was not made to feel less of himself for being different. Instead, he was encouraged by those around him to continue to fulfill his talent of being a painter. It was accepted to go against the grain, which is not very common. The story is definitely about staying true to yourself, even when the temptation is there to be someone you are not. It is also a story of perseverance. The boy did not give up on painting the perfect sunset, and because of this was rewarded with all of the colors of the sunset. The was the paintbrushes then turned into flowers that would go onto bloom every spring is a wonderful touch as it shows the mark the boy is already leaving on the world, and for his tribe.
Extension Ideas:
1. I could ask the children what some of their talents are and ask them how they could use those talents to help those around them.
2. The class could work together to paint a giant sunset. This would show them teamwork as well as all of the beautiful colors that are in a sunset.
3. It would be neat to see if we could somehow recreate the look of the skin canvas for a painting activity.
  copeland86 | Jul 10, 2014 |
Summary: This book is about an Indian boy that was different than the rest of the other children. He had a vision when he was a little older that told him that instead of being a warrior like most of the other men in the tribe he would paint pictures of the deeds of the warriors and the visions of the shaman and the people would remember them forever. He left his paintbrushes on a hill one night and they took root in the earth. The tribal members renamed him He-Who-Brought-the-Sunset-to-the-Earth.

Personal Reaction: I have always loved this book. When I have kids one day I will read it to them. It is a classic and it is a very good multicultural book.

Classroom Extensions: 1) I would have the children paint an Indian Paintbrush. They will be able to use a variety of reds, oranges and yellows. 2) I would have them paint a sunset for homework. I would tell them to look at the sky at night and paint it. ( )
  SmithAlec | Jul 5, 2014 |
“But he never gave up trying” This book is a clear example of how students can use their individual talents to make the world a “Better Place”. I would have the kids think of something they are good at. Then ask them. How could you use this skill to help others? How can you contribute to society by using this skill? How can this skill please God? Have the kids demonstrate their skills in front of the class. You may need to help some of the struggling learners find a skill. Everyone should feel “valuable”. ( )
  WesGen | Jun 22, 2014 |
I think this book is a great one to use to talk about legends and describle what a legend might be. This is a wonderful book to use for the purpose of informational text as well as a text that keeps the reader interested and predicting more.
  KayceBivins | Apr 30, 2014 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tomie dePaolaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Legend

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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