Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush” as Want to Read:
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (Legends)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  2,596 ratings  ·  105 reviews
In spring, the hills and meadows of Texas and Wyoming are ablaze with the reds, oranges, and yellows of the Indian Paintbrush. How this striking plant received its name is told in an old Indian legend. Many years ago, when the People traveled the Plains, a young Indian boy had a Dream-Vision in which it was revealed that one day he would create a painting that was as pure ...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published April 16th 1996 by Puffin (first published January 1st 1988)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett JohnsonThe Dot by Peter H. ReynoldsIsh by Peter H. ReynoldsMouse Paint by Ellen Stoll WalshArt & Max by David Wiesner
Children Books About Art
34th out of 88 books — 83 voters
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe NumeroffAmazing Grace by Mary HoffmanThe Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna ColeOwen by Kevin HenkesArthur's Eyes by Marc Brown
Reading Rainbow Featured Books
14th out of 109 books — 21 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
My 3 yr old twins got this for their birthday and I'm so glad they did! I had never heard of it before and it's a wonderful book! Beautiful illustrations with lots of color, tons of information about American Indians and their culture, and an engaging story that all my children got into. I also love books that have educational value and I can't wait to work this one into a history lesson plan about American Indians as well as an art lesson about blending colors to go with it, and then probably e ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Janelle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists, Wyoming residents, people who love wildflowers and sunsets
The "indian paintbrush" flower inspired this folktale, retold here by one of my faves, Tomie dePaola.

There is so much that I love about this book, and am excited to share with children. The message about being true to yourself and using your gifts and talents. Seeing how the boy creates canvas and brushes and paints. Seeing the products of his work and being able to explain how art was a way of preserving culture and one way that we've learned about the people who came before us.

Be sure to rea
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I love all of de Paola's books of legends. I especially like this one because I used to pick Indian paintbrushes when I was a kid, so I was familiar with the flower in the legend.
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush is a folktale for children’s aged 4 -8. This folktale is the story of how the flower, the indian paintbrush, came to be. It tells of a young boy called Little Gopher who longs to be one of the warriors of his people, but who is told by his shaman, and in a dream vision, that his gift lies elsewhere. He is told that he must paint pictures to record the stories and battles of his people, and his great painting will be the colors of the sunset. He is unable to fi ...more
I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book. I loved the bright colors, and the pictures really helped me visualize the story. I thought this was a good non-fiction book, that helps students learn where the name of the indian paintbrush came from, and helps you understand some of the Native American's history. I would reccommend this book to second graders, or a teacher to do a read aloud with.

School Library Journal
K-Gr 4 Little Gopher was smaller than the other young Indian boys of his Pla
This story is a folk tale describing the beautiful flowers called Indian Paintbrushes. The legend follows a young boy named Little Gopher who is not as big or strong as any of the other boys and can never keep up with them no matter how hard he tried. One night, his Dream-Vision came to him and told him that he was to be a painter and would give back to the people that way. Little Gopher was a little disappointed that he would not be a warrior like the other boys, but he stayed true to his Dream ...more
Henry Martin
As always, Tomie dePaola delivers an awesome legend to contemporary audiences.

An inspiring tale about following one's calling and not merely fitting with what everyone else does.
This is a great story but due to it's length it is sometimes a hard book to get kindergartners through. I used this book as the introduction to a writing activity, in which students drew their own pictures or pictographs on animal skin (brown paper bag). It is a great story that can be used to compare Native Americans to children now, as well as talk about students special talents. This book is full of teaching opportunities, but would probably be more appreciated and understood with older child ...more
Jasmine Burk
This book was an Indian Legend about an Indian who had a unique talent to paint, and with the help of a goddess, was rewarded with bright colored flowers that blossomed all over the town every year because of him following the Goddess' word. This is good in the classroom because it shows that everyone has a skill, and shouldn't want to do stuff because other people are good at it. The painting goes along with the culture, and shows stuff like the Indian Boy painting on animal skin, like it was i ...more
Sara Andrews
“The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush” is a beautifully written legend of a young Native American, Little Gopher, illustrated and retold by Tomie dePaola. Little Gopher had a special gift, different from all the others in his tribe. His talent and purpose was painting; a Vision had told him this. He began to paint brilliant pictures of great hunts, great deeds, and great Dream-Visions. Little Gopher longed to share his Dream-Vision with his tribe, but could not ever seem to get the colors right. ...more
(Folklore) This is a great book to read for a folklore lesson. It is about a young Native American boy who wants to be a warrior like the other boys in his tribe. However, two spirits (a grandfather and a maiden) tell the boy that his gift is to paint pictures of the warriors and battles. They give the boy a paintbrush and animal skin canvas. Then the boy wanted to paint the sunset, but he didn't have the colors he needed. The spirits led the boy to paintbrushes in the ground that had all the co ...more
Sapphire Moosman
This book has always held a special place in my heart. When I was little my family used to go to a cold spring not far from our home. If you were to stand on the edge of the meadow where the spring was hidden and scan the surrounding hills and meadow grass you would see the bright patches of vivid reds and oranges, Indian paint brushes. These flowers not only were beautiful but completely unique and mysterious to me and my cousins growing up because our parents told us not to pick them. I would ...more
This is a beautifully told and illustrated story of a young Plains Indian boy named Little Gopher. Young boys in his tribe grew up riding horses, running, shooting bows, and wrestling to prove their strength, but Little Gopher could not keep up, which made his mother and father worry. The wise shaman of his tribe, however, recognized Little Gopher's artistic talents and advised him not to worry. He tells the boy, "do not struggle Little Gopher. Your path will not be the same as the others. They ...more
Joseph Shea
The book talks about a little Native American boy named Little Gopher who is dreaming of becoming a man. When he grows older, the past chiefs of the sky talk to him and tell him that he is going to be different than all the other warriors and that the boy will change the landscape. They tell him to get buckskin to paint the image of the sunset for which the boy does. He paints the sunset and the next day, the ground is covered in flowers and grass and the people call Little Gopher He-Who-Brought ...more
Few picture book authors, if any, can compare with Tomie dePaola's style in relating old legends from cultures all over the world.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush is similar in many ways to another of Tomie dePaola's books, The Legend of the Bluebonnet. Both tales are told with wonderful depth and respect for the peoples from which they were derived. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush relates the story of a young Indian boy named Little Gopher who grows up feeling different from his peers,
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola is tale of how a young Indian boy became a great artist & painted the deeds and visions of The People who saw & remembered them forever, and how the Indian Paintbrush flower was created. Growing up as the smallest boy in the tribe, Little Gopher reeives a dream vision, struggles to fulfill his destiny, and is rewarded for his efforts to preserve the culture of The People.

DePaola tells this legend with great respect for Native American
Nicole Hassan
The book is about a little boy who could not keep up with the other boys who were always running, wrestling, riding, and shooting their bows. But the boy had other talents. He made small toy warriors from the natural things he found. He had a dream vision a few years later that said he should paint beautiful pictures so people can remember them forever. He would paint a beautiful sunset when he found the picture canvas. He painted just like the vision said, but couldn't find the colors to paint ...more
Kris Brown
Tomie dePaola is the author and illustrator of, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. This folktale picturebook is intended for the primary and intermediate age group. There were no awards issued to the author for writing this book.

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush is about an Indian boy named Little Gopher following through on a gift granted through a vision. When Little Gopher begins to search for signs of becoming an Indian man, he witnesses a vision of a grandfather and a maiden Indian girl
Oct 31, 2014 June rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Native American requests
Great plains legend of a small boy who couldn't keep up with the other boys, but is told not to worry because his path will be different. His dream vision, tells him he will become a great artist. Because of his faith and since he was true to his gift, he is rewarded with brushes filled with paint the colors of the sunset. The paintbrushes become the flower known as the Indian Paintbrush.

Another possibility for a 3rd grade class visit.
As an example of Native American mythology, this is a beautiful, moving book. It holds valuable lessons for pagan children as well. It is a teary, wonderful coming-of-age story.

Little Gopher isn't good at the things the other tribe boys are. He doesn't fit in and doesn't feel valuable. The Divine comes to visit him and to bestow upon him an understanding of what his unique gifts are and how he can use those gifts in life to better the lives of those around him. He works hard, follows the Divine
Hakeem Bashir
A native American artist and is desire to paint the sunset using paintbrush blooms of a wild flower found in Wyoming and the high plains.

He was known as” he-who-brought-the-sun-to-the-earth. Little Gopher the main character in the story wasn’t like typical boys in his age. He was small and wasn’t good and shooting bows and wrestling to prove his strength. The wise Shaman of the tripe supported little Gopher in telling him that he has special gift in his own by saying “Your path will not be the
Meagan Pack
I remember this book from when I was in Elementary. I loved it so much. I remember that I was always looking for the indian paintbrush flower on the hillsides. And once I found one up in the hills I was so excited because I had learned what the flower was in school. I am still appreciative of the flower. Aldo there was great pictures that moves with the story.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Guertler
what really stuck to me was the pictures in the book, i loved how the sunsets looked, as far as the story goes, i didn't really like that the colors just showed up out of the ground i thought that was kind of weird. i liked that it shows that everyone kind of has there own special place.
This is my second favorite book by Tomie DePaola, it is similar to The Legend of the Bluebonnet, which is my favorite of DePaola's books. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush tells a story of a plains Indian child, Little Gopher, a boy who does not wish to be a warrior. He makes crafts and toys and paints. During his vision quest, he is given a deer skin by two spirits of his tribe. They speak to him of his purpose in life which is as an artist, and they give him directions about how to find the ...more
Jamie Tedesco
This was a great start that shows the fact that all people express the same feeling , regardless of what customs we have or what culture we come from. People don't also feel as if they belong but they will always find out what fits with them.
Katelyn Chase
This book I really enjoyed. This a a story I read as a child. It is about a young Indian man who longs to be a warrior, yet the Gods tell him he is meant to bring pictures to his tribe, so that they can always remember. The young Indian struggles to paint the one picture the Gods assigned him, the sunset. Because there are no colors on Earth to match the colors of the sunset, the Gods send him down special paintbrushes with the colors of the sunset. When the little Indian finishes his picture wi ...more
A retelling of the Native American Legend of Little Gopher. Little Gopher grew up smaller and slower than all of the other boys he knew. He despaired as how could a small, slow boy grow into a great hunter. Thankfully the shaman saw he had other skills and encouraged him to pursue them. Indeed, Little Gopher would not grow up to hunt, but rather to capture the stories of his people's hunts in his beautiful paintings.

Great addition to a unit on legends. A good companion to dePaola's Legnd of the
Heather Mize
I had a particular fondness for this book as a child. "The Girl who loved wild horses" has the same magic to it as this book. But, I loved Indian Paintbrushes as a child. They use to grow wild and I would pick them for my Great Aunt and Grandmother who are both gone now. The hill that use to be covered in these is now a nature preserve covered with pine trees. No more Indian Paintbrushes grow. But, I loved the classic return to the Earth quality of this book, and the image of the Paintbrushes it ...more
George Lopez
The Legend of the Indian and the Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola is a good book. The reason is because it gives students an opportunity to learn about Indian history and culture. Another good reason why it a good book to read is because who knew that the Indians were the first ones to invent a paintbrush and for this particular Indian to get a magic one fall from the sky. In the last page of the book it says that every spring that the paintbrushes that he used bloomed into beautiful plants and would ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's The Name o...: Indian Paintbrushes?? [s] 4 28 May 03, 2013 09:18AM  
  • Rechenka's Eggs
  • Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain: A Nandi Tale
  • Annie and the Wild Animals
  • The Quilt Story
  • Linnea in Monet's Garden
  • The Talking Eggs
  • Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale
  • The Paper Crane
  • Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
  • Abiyoyo
  • The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
  • The Rough-Face Girl
  • The Seven Chinese Brothers
  • How My Parents Learned to Eat
  • A House Is a House for Me
Tomie dePaola (pronounced Tommy da-POW-la) is best known for his books for children.
He's been published for 40 years and has written and/or illustrated over 200 books, including 26 Fairmount Avenue, Strega Nona, and Meet the Barkers.
Tomie dePaola and his work have been recognized with the Caldecott Honor Award, the Newbery Honor Award and the New Hampshire Governor's Arts Award of Living Treasure.
More about Tomie dePaola...

Other Books in the Series

Legends (5 books)
  • The Legend of the Bluebonnet
  • The Legend of Old Befana
  • The Legend of the Poinsettia
  • The Legend of the Persian Carpet
Strega Nona The Legend of the Bluebonnet The Art Lesson Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs The Clown of God

Share This Book