9781467757966Luis Paints the World
By Terry Farish
Illustrated by Oliver Dominguez
Published by Lerner Publishing Group

Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children Honor for “fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder.”

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Nico is joining the Army to see the world. His younger brother, Luis, begins a mural on the alleyway wall to try to convince Nico to stay. But in Nico’s absence, Luis’s world expands along with the mural in their bustling Dominican neighborhood.

Reviews & Accolades
“In a sensitive story about art and absence, Luis is devastated after his older brother, Nico, enlists in the army, where he will be “seeing the world. Just as the army promised.” To persuade Nico to stay, Luis paints “the world” in the alleyway where he and Nico play baseball, but his brother must leave anyway. Via text messages, Nico shares the sights he’s seeing abroad, such as a child riding a bicycle and a turquoise cart stacked with bananas; Luis adds each faraway image to the mural, and neighbors soon join in. Dominguez’s lush, chalky artwork blurs the world of Luis’s murals with life with his mother in their predominantly Hispanic neighborhood (Lawrence, Mass., an author’s note explains). Farish (The Good Braider) smoothly integrates references to Latino language and culture throughout, while Dominguez’s dynamic images reveal how art can bring communities together and provide needed hope.”  —Publishers Weekly

“Being the youngest child in a family can be hard, especially when there is a large gap between children. Luis loves his much older brother intensely, and he relies on Nico to be the father figure that is missing from his life. But Nico is going away to join the army and Luis does not want to lose him. He tries to talk Nico out of leaving and even tries to hide in Nico’s duffel bag so he can go with Nico to the army. Finally, Luis paints his view of the world on the wall outside their house in the hopes that Nico will agree that that is enough of the world for him. After Nico leaves, Luis continues to paint the world on the wall, adding images and descriptions that Nico sends him while he is away. Eventually, the entire neighborhood begins to paint on the wall, adding images from their own world. As winter turns to spring and back to autumn and Nico still does not return, Luis fears that Nico will never come back. When Nico’s homecoming finally happens the following autumn, Luis wants to be angry at Nico; but he cannot contain his joy at seeing his brother again. This simple story is heartbreaking at time, but ends with a cheerful note. The images are beautiful and full of color and illustrate Luis’ desire to remain close to his brother however he can. They also showcase the despair and hope that Luis feel while Nico is away.” —Children’s Literature

“Luis, who appears to be eight or nine, is upset because his older brother is leaving for the army in the morning. He can’t understand why Nico can’t see the world from where he is—his neighborhood—which is full of culture and diversity. Luis’s mother gently reminds him that “sometimes people, they move on. They don’t come back for the baseball. Even the flan.” So Luis paints the world on the wall in the alleyway outside his house. As the seasons pass, Luis adds to the mural, focusing on scenes he has seen in his brother Nico’s texts and shared photos. Pretty soon, the entire neighborhood is adding their special touches to the alleyway mural. After what seems like forever (but only about a year), Nico returns home to his brother’s smiling face. The vibrant paintings depicting Luis and his community in attractive tones only add to the feel of the story. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout and are understandable in context for the most part. Farish identifies the setting as Lawrence, MA, in her author’s note. The book includes a glossary of Dominican cultural references. VERDICT A solid addition for most collections, especially in communities with a large armed forces population.”
School Library Journal

“When his older brother, Nico, joins the Army, Luis picks up a paintbrush. At first, Luis tries to join his brother. “Can I go too?” he asks. “To see the world?” He tries to hide inside Nico’s duffel, but Mami catches him in the act, voicing their shared grief in a simple turn of phrase: “Good-byes are sour like lemons.” Wearing his brother’s giant boots, Luis steps outside and paints on the alleyway wall. Soon morning comes, and Nico leaves home. Farish’s restrained story moves at a slow pace, giving readers ample space to grasp the depths of Luis’ sorrow. Seasons come and go, and Luis wonders whether Nico will ever return. Meanwhile, his alleyway art expands. A river curls from wall to wall, and a young boy rides his bicycle beside tall mountains in a distant land: a composite of images from Luis’ neighborhood and pictures he receives from his brother. Neighbors soon start painting, too. Dominguez’s illustrations border on realism, with just a hint of dreamy surrealism. Figures are juxtaposed against one another at evocative angles, as vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows mix with muted blues and purples. “Still, Luis can’t forget what Mami said, that some people don’t come back for the baseball or the flan.” Thankfully, the ending proves her wrong. Luis and his family are light-skinned Latinos, and their Lawrence, Massachusetts, neighborhood is realistically multiethnic. A wistful snapshot of a young artist and his family.” —Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Dominican American

Theme: Art Therapy
Theme: Community
Theme: Sibling Relationship
Theme: War

United States (Lawrence, MA)

Engagement Projects
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