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  • Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art by Amy Alznauer
  • Elizabeth Bush

Alznauer, Amy Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art; illus. by ShanZuo Zhou and DaHuang Zhou. Candlewick, 2020 [48p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781536204285 $17.99 Reviewed from digital galleys R* Gr. 2-5

From early childhood in Communist China, Shaoli (ShanZuo Zhuo) recognized that life comprises the terrible and the beautiful. His grandmother's personal war stories and local folktales mixed violence, struggle, and triumph, and the loud wails of Shaoning (now DaHuang), his beloved baby brother, demonstrated that even siblings are a mixed blessing. The brothers fell into a habit of creating art together—bickering all the while—until the Chinese Communist regime destroyed the family bookstore and broke up the family, with Shaoli becoming a laborer who kept up his talent by painting portraits of Chairman Mao, and Shaoning staying home with their grandmother. The brothers created art together on the sly, though, and eventually Chinese art re-blossomed and they made their way to a flourishing career in America, painting and squabbling together: "Each canvas was a battle of paint that transformed what was once two into a single dance." Alznauer's text is poetically spare, capturing the tone of a treasured legend and delicately complementing the generous gallery of watercolors the Zhou brothers themselves contribute. An author's note expands historical and biographical details, and a photograph of the adult brothers is also included. [End Page 462]



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