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.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
It’s unusual for the subjects of an arts biography to illustrate the story of their own lives, but that’s only one of the elements that set this compelling picture book apart…Picture-book biographies of contemporary artists are rare, and this one, which examines not only inspiration and artistic growth but the specific political reality of censorship facing many Chinese contemporary artists, thoughtfully and accessibly explores this timely topic.
—Booklist (starred review)
Through the vibrant ink-and-watercolor paintings by the subjects themselves, readers are immersed in the bold artistic style and spirit of the Zhou brothers. Alznauer’s author’s note further discusses the Zhou brothers’ career as well as elisions and compression made for the sake of narrative clarity. This engaging biography will comfort and inspire.
The transformative power of art takes center stage in this picture book biography loosely based on the lives of internationally acclaimed artists and brothers ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhou…A fascinating introduction to two contemporary artists who battled adversity and hardships to pursue the higher calling of creative expression. Purchase for large collections where picture book biographies are in demand.
—School Library Journal
Alznauer’s engaging text moves briskly, focusing primarily on the brothers’ relationship…Readers will be captivated by the book’s artful design and vivid ink-and-watercolor illustrations that seamlessly move between intimate family portraits and expansive, expressionistic double-page landscapes. A unique biography that conveys the scope and importance of the subjects’ work through original illustrations by the artists themselves.
—The Horn Book
In folktale cadence, Alznauer traces the story of two brothers, Shaoli and Shaoning, who struggle to create lives for themselves as artists in “the new People’s Republic of China,” which “did not appreciate the high spirits of people who ran their own stores and made their own art.”…An afterword explains how the tale simplifies the life stories of the Zhou Brothers, whose loose-lined, colorful pictures, influenced by both traditional Chinese style and modern sensibilities, depict their own journey. An intimate, inspiring introduction to two contemporary Chinese artists, and a moving reminder of creative work’s power.