Diego

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Diego Book Poster Image
Bilingual text and mini-murals illustrate Rivera's story.

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Good introduction into the life and work of Diego Rivera. Also, it is bilingual and could be a valuable vehicle for practicing reading in English or Spanish.

Positive Messages

Diego's paintings honor everyday people, especially those of Mexico. Also, introduces readers to the idea that art can be a type of activism.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Diego Rivera is presented as a master artist and a proud Mexican who "helped the poor people fight their war for equality."

Violence & Scariness

A mention of Diego's twin brother dying as an infant. Diego was influenced by the violence he saw and some of this is depicted. One illustration shows soldiers shooting down striking workers; in another, armed revolutionaries are blowing up a train.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reissued biography tells the simplified but true story of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. It is beautifully illustrated and won the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award. Though smaller kids will enjoy the art, the book is really better for school-age readers: It features some difficult material (Diego's twin brother dies as an infant, and his art depicts the hardships and violence experienced by the Mexican people through paintings of soldiers shooting workers and revolutionaries blowing up a train), and it introduces readers to the idea that art can be a type of activism (since Diego "helped the poor people fight their war for equality.")  Because it's bilingual and written simply in both languages, it can offer a valuable vehicle for practicing reading in English or Spanish.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byF-Zero studios September 19, 2010

What's the story?

To convalesce as a child, Diego is sent to the mountains, where he absorbs the magical beauty of the jungle and learns a love of the common people of Mexico. Back home again, he begins drawing, painting, and using color, but when he is sent to a local art school he is bored. He wants to paint the reality of life around him, and so he does. Diego goes on to study art in Paris, but misses Mexico. He loves the frescos he sees in the cathedrals of Italy, and decides to go back home where he spends his life developing murals that depict the lives of working-class Mexicans.

Is it any good?

DIEGO is a bilingual mural of words and illustrations that presents a simple, honest but eloquent introduction to the art of one of the world's most influential muralists, Diego Rivera. The straightforward story is told in both English and Spanish, and the richly colorful mini-murals that accompany the text are a perfect complement. Not everything in Diego Rivera's life and murals is for kids, and Jonah Winter has done a wonderful job of choosing pertinent material without watering down the facts. His text is clear, varied, and to the point; even some more mature material has been put together in a way that will interest kids, yet not overwhelm them.

Kids will also love the colorful, expressive illustrations, which add a heartbeat of richness and passion to the text. Each painting by Jeanette Winter is masterful. Her colors vibrate on the page, and, though small, each framed acrylic design is saturated with the beauty of Mexican folk art and shows an appreciation of the murals that Diego Rivera painted, some of which form the background in the later pages. 

Each painting by Jeanette Winter is masterful. Her colors vibrate on the page, and, though small, each framed acrylic design is saturated with the beauty of Mexican folk art and shows an appreciation of the murals that Diego Rivera painted.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about murals and what made Diego River become a muralist. Have you ever seen any of his work?

  • Why do you think the author chose to write this book both in English and in Spanish? Do you think that Diego Rivera would have appreciated hearing his story in his own language?

Book details

For kids who love books about art and the Latino experience

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