The Little Painter of Sabana


by Patricia Maloney Markun
illustrated by Robert Casilla

This picture book tells the story of the Espino family from the Panama village of Sabana Grande. Fernando, the young boy in the story, gathers materials to make own paint:
“Black from the charcoal of a burned trees stump. Blue of certain berries that grow deep in the jungle. Yellow from dried grasses in the meadow. And red from the clay on the bottom of the brook.”

Without any paper, Fernando begins to paint the adobe houses of the village, turning them into a beautiful sight and attraction.

According to the author’s note, Markun was living in Panama when she heard about this boy – Markun states, “My vivid memory of those sand-colored adobe houses, one of them brightened by a creative child, called forth a story – one that really happened.”

The way that this child’s creativity became contagious in the little village reminded me of two other stories: The Big Orange Spot by D. Manus Pinkwater and The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. I think it would be interesting to group these stories together and let children made the thematic connections between them.


One Response to “The Little Painter of Sabana”

  1. 1 leslie

    Thank you for the suggestion of connecting this with The Dot and The Big Orange Spot. My students returned to class one day from art and they began telling me abtout The Little Painter of Sabana. Students were read this story as a lead in to painting what they see around them and using tools around them to create the color and tone necessary. Students then made their own paint using plants, soil, and other natural materials. The next week, the students sat outside with their paint and created “landscapes” of their surroundings. I was so impressed with their creations, but also how touched and inspired they were by Fernando!

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