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Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush
     

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush

by Luis Alberto Urrea, Christopher Cardinale (Illustrator)
 

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Mr. Mendoza, Mexico’s self-described king of graffiti, blesses the small town of Rosario with his sardonic wit. “Deflate your pomp or float away!” he paints on the body of an unexpectedly exhumed monk. “No intelligent life for 100 kilometers,” he proclaims on the sign that announces Rosario’s boundaries.

The residents of

Overview


Mr. Mendoza, Mexico’s self-described king of graffiti, blesses the small town of Rosario with his sardonic wit. “Deflate your pomp or float away!” he paints on the body of an unexpectedly exhumed monk. “No intelligent life for 100 kilometers,” he proclaims on the sign that announces Rosario’s boundaries.

The residents of Rosario tolerate or enjoy Mr. Mendoza’s commentary as best they can. But the town goes crazy when Mendoza announces—on the side of a pig—“Mendoza goes to heaven on Tuesday.” Each new declaration from Mendoza drives speculation about his future. Suicide? Cancer? Syphillis? All the theories were in play until the Tuesday when Mendoza transformed his life with art.

Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush was originally written as a short story by Luis Alberto Urrea, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Devil’s Highway and an Edgar Award winner for his short story “Amapola.” It was published in 2002 as part of his collection Six Kinds of Sky. Artist Christopher Cardinale, whose graphic essays have appeared in the seminal magazines World War III and Punk Planet, adapted the short story to the graphic novel form.

And critics are raving about the outcome. The Bloomsbury Review says, “Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush is a rich gift, an off-center, enigmatic tale with a well-coupled balance of narration and art. Urrea and Cardinale are a ‘match made in heaven.’” And Publishers Weekly adds that “this lovely comics adaptation…may have found the ideal way to present magical realism graphically.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This lovely comics adaptation of a short story by major Latino writer Urrea may have found the ideal way to present magical realism graphically. As a boy growing up in the little town of Rosario, the narrator observes things in the natural world around him wonderfully ripening, but he also catches glimpses of marvelous forces that intrude into mundane life. Mr. Mendoza, meanwhile, is offended by the small-minded pomp and hypocrisy of the townspeople and posts his observations in sometimes scathing, sometimes enigmatic graffiti written on objects, animals, and people. Cardinale presents this in a mixture of crosshatching and scratchboard style that makes each panel resemble a static woodcut—but one that interacts dynamically with surrounding action. The scenes look only temporarily solid, an especially appropriate condition for the story’s conclusion, when Mendoza abandons the town by climbing steps he draws in the air. A different level of “realism” in the art wouldn’t have maintained the ambiguity that makes the tale’s magic so hauntingly effective. (May)
From the Publisher

"Urrea’s delightful tale of morality and meaning is rendered masterfully by Cardinale’s boisterous illustrations, their bold outlines providing heft to the surrealism…An enchanting exploration of life’s myriad mysteries." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush is a rich gift, an off-center, enigmatic tale with a well-coupled balance of narration and art. Urrea and Cardinale are a 'match made in heaven" — or at least mythology. Let us hope there’s more where this one came from." —The Bloomsbury Review

"This lovely comics adaptation of a short story by major Latino writer Urrea may have found the ideal way to present magical realism graphically." —Publishers Weekly

"VERDICT: Cardinale's colorful, wood-block-style art paints this lively tale about Rosario and its townspeople with nostalgia and humor. A gem." —Library Journal

"Urrea's … short story has now been superbly adapted as a graphic novel by Cardinale." —Horn Book

"Christopher Cardinale's muted earth tones and beautiful woodblock style mix fantasy with gritty reality; children and adults alike will be beguiled by this book." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Christopher Cardinale's broad-brush art complements the story and gives it an air of magical realism. The art can be enjoyed independent of reading the tale." —Albuquerque Journal

"La unión de estos dos destacados artistas en la publicación es un regalo tanto para los lectores como para quienes defienden los méritos del relato gráfico…Las ilustraciones de Cardinales le brindan al relato una nueva dimensión al destacar el arte de protesta, lo cual representa una parte esencial del texto." —Terra.com

"The richly colored artwork captures the town and its citizens in bold black lines filled with the heat and magic of Mexico. The quiet, lyrical text tells of urban legends and teenage lust tempered by guilt, and it’s beautifully woven into the graphics." —School Library Journal

"The [story] has now been turned into a graphic novel…vibrantly illustrated in a bold, woodcut style by Brooklyn cartoonist and muralist Christopher Cardinale."—San Antonio Express-News

"The text is absolutely sparkling, wry, warm, and funny with a satirical edge that counterbalances the magical realism that begins as an undertone and expands into the story’s climax … Readers who fell under the spell of Tan’s Tales from Outer Suburbia will definitely want to book a trip to Rosario." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush is a stunningly illustrated life story that absolutely transcends into great art myth at the end…an evolving experience of the macabre and the sacred intertwined, evocative and haunting in its tone." —Midwest Book Review

"...An example of a graphic novel that represents Mexican/Mexican American writing and artistry at its finest." —EN/SANE World

"Urrea’s story with supernatural energy, every panel somehow a snapshot of movement-in-progress, whether shatteringly monumental like the thunderclap hitting the clock tower, or quietly subtle as a student raising a knowing hand" —Book Dragon

Library Journal
In a small town where the drawings make you smell the heat and the burros, the enigmatic Mr. Mendoza has appointed himself graffiti king. Writing on walls, corpses, unwilling bystanders, and teens caught peeping at girls, the self-designated group conscience wields his brush with sardonic wit, scrawling on the cemetery's wall, for example, "Mendoza never slept here" and on a sign with the town's name, "No intelligent life for 100 kilometers." Then the scribe announces his departure, and everyone is abuzz. Will he just walk out? Kill himself? But Mendoza's brush has a life of its own in providing an escape route. Adapted from the short story collection Six Kinds of Sky, Urrea's magical realist parable about growing up in Mexico turned out to be strangely prophetic. For Urrea himself, Latino Hall of Fame inductee and Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Devil's Highway, the conscience-driven Word, like Mendoza's brush, allowed him to ascend to literary and journalistic acclaim. VERDICT Cardinale's colorful, wood-block-style art paints this lively tale about Rosario and its townspeople with nostalgia and humor. A gem for libraries, especially those seeking Latino-themed titles. High school age and up.—M.C.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In the small town of Rosario, alongside the crumbling cathedral and the dusty walls, are cryptic messages painted by Mr. Mendoza, self-proclaimed "graffiti king of all Mexico." A teen tells fantastic legends of the town, connecting them with the man's words. Mendoza himself is a legend; is he real or imagined? Immortal or human? There's nothing his paintbrush hasn't touched, from a dead monk to a peeping Tom. He paints the town's ugly truths, angering and intriguing residents. The richly colored artwork captures the town and its citizens in bold black lines filled with the heat and magic of Mexico. The quiet, lyrical text tells of urban legends and teenage lust tempered by guilt, and it's beautifully woven into the graphics. This slim book can fit into any collection serving older teens.—Sadie Mattox, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
Kirkus Reviews
The residents of the small Mexican town of El Rosario don't quite know what to make of Mr. Mendoza and his omnipresent paintbrush. Is he merely a vandal, spreading snippets of esoteric nonsense around town with a few strokes of his brush? Or an overlooked philosopher who has explanations for life's greatest mysteries? The self-described Mexican King of Graffiti, Mendoza spares no one the mischievous spitfire of his brush-neither El Rosario's residents nor God Himself. When a series of unfortunate incidents befall the town-from the devastating storm that rains down corpses to the mine collapse that drags large swaths of town into a gaping abyss-Mendoza is there with paint-dripped commentary, urging residents to investigate the nature of life itself. Urrea's delightful tale of morality and meaning is rendered masterfully by Cardinale's boisterous illustrations, their bold outlines providing heft to the surrealism. This tale, in their steady hands, becomes a cheeky tour through elements of Latin pop culture: Hints of Romero's horrors, Rivera's aesthetics and Garcia Marquez's magical realism all make their appearance here. An enchanting exploration of life's myriad mysteries. (Graphic fiction. 13 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781933693231
Publisher:
Cinco Puntos Press
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Pages:
64
Sales rank:
1,381,324
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


Luis Alberto Urrea is author of widely acclaimed novel The Hummingbird's Daughter and 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction for The Devil's Highway. A member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, Luis was born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an American mother. This is his first graphic novel. Christopher Cardinale is a graphic novelist, muralist and community activist who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a regular contributor to the zine World War III.

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