Diego Rivera: His World and Ours

by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author)

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Discover the life and legacy of celebrated Mexican artist Diego Rivera in this picture book by award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh

A Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner!

Diego Rivera, one of the most famous painters of the twentieth century, was once just a mischievous little boy who loved to draw. But this little boy would grow up to follow his passion and greatly influence the world of art.

After studying in Spain and France as a young man, Diego was excited to return to his home country of Mexico. There, he toured from the coasts to the plains to the mountains. He met the peoples of different regions and explored the cultures, architecture, and history of those that had lived before. Returning to Mexico City, he painted great murals representing all that he had seen. He provided the Mexican people with a visual history of who they were and, most important, who they are.

Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, who has also been inspired by the art and culture of his native Mexico, asks, if Diego was still painting today, what history would he tell through his artwork? What stories would he bring to life? Drawing inspiration from Rivera to create his own original work, Tonatiuh helps young readers to understand the importance of Diego Rivera's artwork and to realize that they too can tell stories through art.

Publishers Weekly

Suggestive of stained glass windows, Tonatiuh's mixed-media collages combine ancient Mexican art motifs with blocky, stylized figures, to pay tribute to this versatile artist. Rivera paired classical and modern techniques with traditional Mexican aesthetics to create socially and politically relevant murals. Tonatiuh invites readers to speculate about what Rivera might paint if he were alive today--"would he paint students at their desks... just as he painted factory workers in the production line?"--while creating vignettes whose symmetries draw further connections between past and present. Tonatiuh's biography celebrates Rivera, but focuses on the inspiration driving artistic expression in his time and in our own. Ages 5-9. (May)

Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—Tonatiuh relates key moments in the famous muralist's life and ponders what would capture his interest if he were alive today. The stylized brown figures are shown in profile with open mouths, exaggerated features, and heads that seem hinged to the bodies. With only one page mentioning the subject's childhood (in which the young artist is wearing a hat and suit as he draws near his toys), the text concentrates instead on how Rivera internalized traditional and modern styles while studying art in Europe, absorbed the aesthetics of ancient Mexican civilizations after returning home, and then applied his training to local politics and culture. In scenes both thoughtful and humorous, Tonatiuh contrasts interpretations of Rivera's work with renderings of imagined work today. A contemporary mall scene faces the flower vendor with calla lilies. Dynamic, brightly lit luchadores (professional wrestlers) are paired with a scene of Aztec warriors and conquistadores. Back matter includes a glossary of words/concepts in sequence, an author's note, selected sites for viewing the murals, and a list of specific works that inspired the cartoonlike art. Students looking closely will note that some of Rivera's historical paintings include brown figures, in profile, mouths open. The original murals can be found along with biographical details in Mike Venezia's Diego Rivera (Children's Press, 1995) and in Guadalupe Rivera Marin's highly personal My Papa Diego and Me/Mi papa Diego y yo (Children's Book Press, 2009). An inspired approach that combines child appeal, cultural anthropology, and art history.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Duncan Tonatiuh
Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tee-YOU) is an award-winning author-illustrator. He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and graduated from Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College in New York City. His artwork is inspired by pre-Columbian art. His aim is to create images and stories that honor the past, but are relevant to today's people, especially children. He currently lives in San Miguel with his family but travels in the United States often.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Harry N. Abrams
Publication date
May 20, 2011
BISAC categories
JNF007000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | General
JNF006000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Art | General
Library of Congress categories
Rivera, Diego
Parents Choice Awards (Spring) (2008-Up)
Recommended 2011 - 2011
Pura Belpre Award
Winner 2012 - 2012

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