Dadaji’s Paintbrush is a poignant and heartwarming picture book which sensitively explores the subject of bereavement. It’s a beautifully illustrated story of family love and loss which is intertwined with creativity and hope.
The Story: A boy and his Dadaji (grandfather) love to paint together, sometimes alone and sometimes with children from the village. Materially they don’t have much but they have each other. Until one day Dadaji is gone. He leaves the boy his special paintbrush but the boy is so consumed with grief that he locks it away along with all Dadaji’s paintings. But one day a small girl knocks on the boy’s door and asks him to teach her to paint like Dadaji used to do…
The boy and Dadaji live together in a house full of paintings. They have a close relationship and do everything together. Dadaji is a kind and caring grandfather who also spends time sharing his knowledge and experience with the village children. But when Dadaji is gone the brush and the paintings are a painful reminder of the boy’s loss. The colour has gone out of his world.
But the little girl is persistent in her request to learn to paint and this leads to a realisation – the boy can use Dadaji’s paintbrush and continue his grandfather’s legacy through his own art and interactions with the village children.
Ruchi Mhasane’s muted pastel coloured illustrations are beautiful – we love the pictures of Dadaji painting, especially the one with him surrounded by children. The illustrations become grey as the boy struggles with grief but more colour reappears with the arrival of the little girl.
Dadaji’s Paintbrush has a close and caring relationship at its heart which is intertwined with creativity and cultural references – mangoes, monsoons and the descriptions of art materials. It’s fascinating to read about painting with coconut shells, betel leaves and the brushes that Dadaji and the boy use, sticks that have their ends wrapped in cloth strips, reeds or jasmine flowers.
This gentle story can be used to stimulate discussions about grief and loss either at home or in a classroom. It could also be used to stimulate a painting session, art therapy is often used to help children express their emotions after a bereavement.
Age Range: 3 +