Top positive review
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Donaldson delights with a new direction
on 6 June 2003
After discovering “The Gruffalo” by chance, our entire family was hooked on Julia Donaldson. All her books have strong, simple rhymes which are easy to read aloud – something other children’s authors could learn from.
“The Magic Paintbrush” carries on this tradition, but is altogether different. This time the illustration duties fall to Joel Stewart, instead of Donaldson’s long-time collaborator Axel Scheffler.
Stewart’s beautifully stylised illustrations bring a fresh and timeless feel to the story. It could appeal to a much older child than the bulk of Donaldson’s work, although younger readers will also be delighted.
The story itself is wonderfully simple and inventive. Shen, a young Chinese girl, is given an enchanted paintbrush – everything she paints becomes real. Without giving the story away, Shen cleverly puts the paintbrush to good use, refusing to let it be used by greedy people.
Like “The Smartest Giant in Town”, “Room on the Broom” and “The Gruffalo”, Donaldon’s message is handled with a light touch. Children don’t feel patronised and parents don’t feel they’re hammering home a point. After all, bedtime is for winding down – not moralising.
If you’re a fan of the author, please bear in mind that this story doesn’t use humour in the same way as her other books. That’s not to say there aren’t funny moments – but the overall feeling is that you’re reading a timeless fable rather than a modern “entertainment”.
Just three days in, it’s already destined to become a favourite in our household.