Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two Picture Books about Diego Rivera

Here are two picture book biographies about the famous Mexican artist/muralist Diego Rivera. Both books are written in both Spanish and English, and focus on different areas of his life. For kids who like biographies and/or have an interest in art, these books should pique their interest.

My Papa Diego and Me/Mi papa Diego y yo: Memories of My Father and His Art/Recuerdos de mi padre y su arte

Written by: Guadalupe Rivera Marin
Illustrated by: Diego Rivera
Recommended Ages: 7-10

My Papa Diego and Me is written by Diego Rivera's daughter-Guadalupe Rivera Marin-lending a nice personal touch to the biography. Marin has gathered 13 of her father's paintings and written her own recollections of them. The artwork, as you might imagine, is lush and colorful and does a wonderful job introducing Diego Rivera's work to young readers. Marin's narrative gives us a glimpse into rural Mexican life at the turn of the century. Here's an example where she describes a drawing of a cover of a book called Fermin.

My father created this drawing for the cover of a book called Fermin. This book was used in rural schools of Mexico. It told the story of Fermin, the boy you see in the center of the drawing.

Fermin was a peasant boy who worked hard in the hot sun of the countryside. He went to school, read books about history, and eventually became a revolutionary leader. The story of Fermin was very important to my father. He wanted to show that all children, even those who grow up with very little, can become leaders. (p. 14)

The endplates on My Papa Diego and Me feature one of his most famous murals-Sueno de una tarde dominical en la Alameda. In it you see Diego as a young boy with an adult Frida Kahlo standing directly behind him. There are also some very sweet photographs of Diego and his daughter.


Written by: Jeanette Winter
Illustrated by: Jonah Winter
Recommended Ages: 5-10

Diego is a much more straightforward biography that focuses on Diego Rivera's early life. The sentences are clear and concise, so that early readers will be able to follow along. We learn that he showed artistic promise at an early age, and that his parents supported him in his endeavors. Little things that happened to him as a child are described and give us an idea of his early childhood influences.

Diego didn't like everything he saw. That's why he helped the poor people fight their war for equality. They were fighting for fair wages and a better life. Diego loved his people more than anything, almost...
The thing he loved most was painting.

The illustrations are done in bold, vivid colors, and are very reminiscent of Rivera's style. If you want to expose young readers to art, both of these books will do that and more. Their world will open up with the story and art of Diego Rivera.

BookNosher Activity: After reading about Diego Rivera, kids might want to attempt to paint or draw their own murals. I recently came across a website called Art Projects for Kids that has some really terrific templates of murals for sale for $5. This particular one focuses on Haiti, although there are many other templates available that are described off to the right.


Keith Schoch said...

These look like two terrific books! I love getting students excited about artists and their styles, and then having them work in those same styles.

Robin Gaphni said...

I know what you mean. I have a soft spot in my heart for picture book biographies on artists. They are such a great introduction to art, and kids love to learn about the artists.