The epic story of two Chinese brothers who became art-world legends, illustrated with stunning paintings by the artists themselves
First there was one Zhou brother, and then there were two. They lived in a bookstore with their grandmother, Po Po, whose stories of paintings that flew through the air and landed on mountain cliffs inspired them to create their own art. Amid the turbulence of China's Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Zhou Brothers began painting together on the same canvas. Today, ShanZuo and DaHuang Zhou are icons in the art world, renowned for working side by side on all their paintings and sculptures.
In this extraordinary biography, author Amy Alznauer joins with the Zhou Brothers to tell the story of their unique and often difficult childhood and their pursuit of a wild, impossible dream. The lyrical writing blends elements of legend, while the brothers' dramatic illustrations soar with vibrant colors and surreal imagery from ancient Chinese cliff paintings. An inspiration for young artists and dreamers of all kinds, this deeply felt collaboration explores how art can bring people together, as well as set them free.
PreS-Gr 4—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. Born in the 1950s in the People's Republic of China, the brothers (then known as Shaoli and Shaoning) came of age during the Cultural Revolution. After their father was forced into a labor camp and their mother was imprisoned by the government, the brothers were raised by their grandmother, Po Po, who was a bookseller. They painted and heard stories about the cliff paintings of Huashan; as they grew older, the cliff paintings and stories influenced their work. After Po Po died, the brothers began to paint a mural together on the walls of their family bookstore and embarked on an artistic partnership that still exists today. The idea that beauty cannot exist without ugliness is echoed throughout the text. The strength of this book lies in the autobiographical artwork rendered by the brothers. Representation of their artwork over the span of their career mirrors their growth as artists while also providing a sample of their work. Author and illustrator's notes are included. VERDICT 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.—Jennifer Knight, North Olympic Lib. Syst., Port Angeles, WACopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
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." Guided by the words of their grandmother-- "to become an artist... you must possess the highest spirit"--the brothers struggle through loss and separation, acquiring training, drawing inspiration from Chinese cliff paintings, and learning to work together: "Each canvas was a battle of paint that transformed what was once two into a single dance, what was old into something new, and what was terrible into something beautiful." 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. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.