"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."


Friday, March 16, 2007


Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Bilingual edition (January 9, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0679919872
ISBN-13: 978-0679919872

Diego is an information packed little picture book that focuses on the young life of famed Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera.

The book tells the story of Diego as a little boy, struggling with school and how his parents supported him in his art. It also tells that he was a twin born in Guanajuato, Mexico and that his twin brother died before he reached age two. Diego was then sent to live with an old curandera in the hills for fear that he would take sick and die as well. While being separated from his parents caused some trauma, for the most part his life with Antonia the curandera was pretty magical and influenced his art for the rest of his life.

Both the author and the illustrator have done such a great job in teaching small children about this very important artist. Diego’s love of his culture and homeland shine through the book as does his social conscience. His tumultuous personal life is not addressed and personally, I don’t think it needs to be for a book that caters to such a young age. They’ll figure that out later because they’ll have a great interest in Diego after reading this book.

Each page has a great picture done in the style of a Diego Rivera painting with succinct sentences that convey much in both languages. Each page is lavishly illustrated in Diego’s own style. Paintings are bordered in Mexican style with birds and other tropical nuances. There are some great illustrations of Diego as a little boy holding a paintbrush.

The Spanish translation is clear and simple. It flows easily. I think the book is great learning tool for children trying to learn Spanish or English as well as learning about art and the artist himself. Jonah Winter is so eloquent in the short sentences that he compels the reader to like Diego, want to try to understand him and know more about him while Jeanette Winter’s lovely and lively illustrations show her love of the subject and suggest that she was very influenced by this artist. Her brilliant color choices also reflect Diego’s love of nature and of Mexico itself. Highly recommended!

Book description from the publisher:

Diego was a boy who loved to draw; he drew on everything, even the walls. In time, he would become known as one of the greatest muralists in all of Mexico—in all the world. "An accessible picture book about the life and work of Diego Rivera sounds like an oxymoron, but Winter and Winter succeed beyond belief," announced School Library Journal in a 1991 starred review. With spare, lyrical text—featured in both English and Spanish on every page—accompanying miniature murals done in Rivera's own vibrant style, this celebrated picture-book biography now makes a much deserved return to hardcover after a seven-year absence.

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