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by Chen Jiang Hong


From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 1-5–This elegant picture book recounts a legend involving the painter Han Gan, who lived in China 1200 years ago. Though he came from a poor family, his talent was recognized early and he won acceptance to the academy for official painters. The young man loved to draw horses, and he always drew them tethered, as he warned, my horses are so alive they might leap right off the paper. One night, a great warrior visited him and asked him to bring to life a valiant steed. The artist was frustrated with his attempt, but as he tried to destroy the painting in the fire, the horse came to life and rode away with the warrior on its back. The great horse did not need to eat, drink, or sleep, and was invincible in battle, until it took pity on its vanquished foes. The steed threw off its rider and returned to be part of a painting on the wall of Han Gan’s home. The tale is crisply and concisely told. The double-page illustrations are dominated by strong browns, blacks, and reds, and are painted directly on silk in the style of Han Gan. The oversize art underscores the tale’s drama and epic scale with plenty of period detail, balanced with large open areas. Altogether, this is a masterfully told picture book, and one whose timeless message will resonate with many readers.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Ages 4-8, Folklore, Preschool