The Magic Horse of Han Gan by Jiang Hong Chen.
Oh how I love this book! It is an amazing story combined with amazing art work that mesh together to create a whole that is well, amazing! (I promise to come up with another adjective in the next paragraph.)
Han Gan was a poor child who loved art but could not afford the supplies. When a famous artist sees him sketching horses in the sand, he offers to fund his supplies. Han Gan drew all day long, loving especially to draw horses. Han Gan’s drawings grew so very lifelike that they almost seemed ready to jump right off the pages. When Han Gan is approached to really create horses that come to life, he puts his heart and soul into it and finally does just that, creating a horse that didn’t need sustenance or rest.
This book is a perfect melding of art and subject with homage being paid to traditional Chinese art and a traditional Chinese story. It is illustrated using the same techniques that Han Gan himself used. As a reader, I wasn’t aware of that until I read the final page, but instinctively I knew that something special had been created here that truly drew upon the art of this legendary person.
This is a picture book for elementary age children. I would recommend it for art classes, units on legends, or as a glimpse into China. It is so very lovely that it needs to be recommended to children who love art, horses, or just a great read.