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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: I, Juan de Pareja

I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borten de Treviño, YR, 1965, 180p, Rating=5
Newbery Winner 1966
Source: library

When the great Velazquez was painting his masterpieces at the Spanish court in the seventeenth century, his colors were expertly mixed and his canvases carefully prepared by his Negro slave, Juan de Pareja. In a vibrant novel which depicts both the beauty and the cruelty of the time and place, Elizabeth Borton de Treviño tells the story of Juan, who was born a slave and died an accomplished and respected artist. (Goodreads)

I totally see why this won the Newbery.  From page one I was enchanted.  It had a calming feel to the read.  An autobiographical fiction that read so vividly that I felt as if I was there and liked this 17th century setting.  I felt honored getting to know the wonderful Spaniard painter, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, and his slave, Juan de Pareja.  The truth and fiction meshed so well that everything was believable and in my head what was told was how it happened.  What a thrill it was to be privy to such a look into a story of respect and friendship and not about slavery as one may imagine this might be about.  Definitely my kind of book and I am quick to highly recommend this as a must read. 

It warms my heart that this is targeted to young readers.  What a great example of integrity this would surely grant them. 

Simply, this story made me happy. :)

My quote-ables:
“The months went by, and at first I thought every day of Miri. But Time is a great traitor who teaches us to accept loss. I was young, and young hearts cannot always be sad.” pg76

“Lately I added a prayer for Miri, too. As I knelt, it seemed as if an angel folded me within his wings, shutting out all that was ugly or hurtful in the world.” pg 78

“But I am a slave!”
Is it a sin, then, to be a slave?”
No. It is an injustice. But I am a religious man. I do not expect justice here on earth, but only in heaven and I am not a rebellious slave. I love Master and Mistress.” pg 126

Qualifies for this challenge


  1. High recommendation when the reader is enchanted right from the beginning. Sounds like a great read, thanks for recommending it.

  2. I've been wanting to read this one, and I really love the art of Velasquez. Very glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

  3. --You're welcome Tracy.

    --Thank you Lauren. I think you'll enjoy this book too since you love his art.


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