THE MAGIC PAINTBRUSH by Laurence Yep (HarperCollins, 2000)

This historical novel centers on young Steve, Grandfather, and a friend of the family, Uncle Fong. After the tragic death of his parents, Steve comes to live in Chinatown with his poor Grandfather, who seems emotionally distant. When Grandfather gives Steve a magic paintbrush, suddenly they can paint their desires into reality. Probably my favorite book by Yep. Characterization is particularly wonderful. Ages 9-up.