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DIEGO RIVERA by Duncan Tonatiuh Kirkus Star


His World and Ours

by Duncan Tonatiuh & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8109-9731-8
Publisher: Abrams

A simple picture-book biography of Diego Rivera concentrates on his artistic career and encourages children to imagine themselves painting their own world.

Tonatiuh moves quickly through Rivera's childhood and early career, concentrating on the artist's murals and their inspirations. Clear language contextualizes the artist: In Spain, "he learned the classical way to paint, which means the finished paintings looked very realistic, almost like photographs," but then in France, "he met young artists who were painting in new and exciting ways." Without belaboring the point, the author honors Rivera's politics as well as his love of his homeland. (Notably and appropriately absent is any mention of Rivera's problematic personal life.) Like his subject, Tonatiuh celebrates his ethnic heritage with brown-skinned, muscular, stylized figures. His shapes have an elemental look to them; heads are virtually round, and lines are clean and straight. Digital coloring adds both texture and whimsy. Concluding, he suggests that if Rivera "were alive today," he might "paint students at their desks… / … just as he painted factory workers in the production line." By establishing a link between modern readers and Rivera and challenging them to "make our own murals," the author makes art both aspiration and action.

Both solid introduction and exhortation, this book will thrill budding artists. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, lists of museums and paintings) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)