I, Juan de Pareja

Book cover: 'I, Juan de Pareja'
Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
Grade / Age level: 

I, Juan de Pareja, is biographical fiction, set in Spain in the first half of the seventeenth century. It tells the story of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez, the Court painter in Spain, through the eyes of his personal servant, Juan de Pareja. Juan was part of Diego Velazquez's inheritance, and became his personal aide. Because of his nature, Juan doesn't resent his master and becomes a beloved member of the household.This story tells of the mutual respect that two men, even though one is a black slave and the other his master, can have for each other. Although it is forbidden for a slave to learn or practice the arts in Spain at that time, Juan pays close attention to his master and learns to paint in secret. But is learning to paint worth his guilt? Is it worth the guilt of having stolen paints and the terror of being discovered?I, Juan de Pareja, is an excellent story that I'd recommend for children ages 9 to 16. The reason I recommend it for older children is that there is some wanton cruelty, and death is a sub-theme of the novel. It can also be used as a read-aloud to older children and would be an excellent addition to your study of Spain or the Renaissance. This book should be readily available at your local library, or even a good used book store.

Review Date: 
Reviewed by: