Dadaji’s Paintbrush by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Ruchi Mhasane is a beautifully illustrated and deeply touching picture book set in India, featuring a delicate story about grief, relationships with grandparents, and continuing the legacy of a loved one.
Dadaji loves to teach others to paint, especially his grandson. But after Dadaji passes away, the boy can’t bear to use the favourite paintbrush his grandfather left for him. When a little girl knocks on the door, the boy discovers how many lives Dadaji touched with his art, and finds a way to continue his legacy…
Author Rashmi Sirdeshpande stopped by our blog this week to answer questions about the new book…
with Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of Dadaji’s Paintbrush
The story features a tender and heartwarming grandparent-grandchild relationship. Was this inspired by any of your real-life relationships?
Absolutely. It captures the love my grandfather had for me and mine for him, but also the beautiful relationship between my father and my children.
Bereavement and loss are not easy subjects to write about for children, but the story explores the themes beautifully in a gentle and tender way. How would you want the story to speak to young readers who have experienced loss in their own life?
I hope it gives them comfort knowing that the people we love never really leave us, and that they live on inside our hearts and in the things we do.
How did you work together with illustrator Ruchi Mhasane to draw out the themes and to bring the setting alive?
We actually worked in isolation, but there’s a magic in how Andersen Press brought us together because she had read my mind and heart in every way possible!
We loved the evocative and sensory setting descriptions in the story – we could almost taste the mangoes! Can you tell us more about the setting and why you chose it?
This is all Goa, which is where my family is from! Illustrator Ruchi Muhasane knew it just by reading the text and being from a similar region, and she brought it all to life so beautifully with her stunning artwork!
Another important theme in the book is the power of art – the story demonstrates the value of art as a means of expression and creativity, as well as its capacity to bring communities together and to create legacies. Is art something that has been important in your own life?
Yes! My family has always treasured and honoured the arts and learning and creativity. Community has been such an important theme in our lives too. So I took all of this and blended it together.
Can you tell us which children’s books you loved as a child? And how about now?
I loved the Usborne Puzzle Adventures, picture books like Funny Bones, poetry collections like Please Mrs Butler, non-fiction books on everything under the sun, and comics about myths and legends! A complete mix and it’s the same today! I read and love all sorts of books, especially ones with PICTURES!
If you had a magic wand that could make one thing change in the children’s publishing industry, what would it be?
ONE THING??? I’d make it live and breathe inclusiveness – that means hiring, growing and promoting people of all backgrounds, reaching out to, discovering and building underrepresented creatives and making sure their books have reach and visibility. It’s not enough to publish people or books, you have to grow them!
Finally – we’d love to know, is there another book or writing project in the pipeline?
ALWAYS! Another stunning project with Andersen Press and so many more books in my heart that I hope to bring onto the page very soon!
Many thanks to Rashmi for swinging by!
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