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I, Juan de Pareja
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I, Juan de Pareja

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  4,495 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Told through the eyes of Velasquez's slave and assistant, this vibrant novel depicts both the beauty and the cruelty of 17th century Spain and tells the story of Juan, who was born a slave and died a respected artist.

Latino Interest.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 1st 1987 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published 1965)
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The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
61st out of 95 books — 2,216 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHoles by Louis SacharNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal Winner Books
65th out of 93 books — 256 voters

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Community Reviews

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**3.5 stars**

Juan de Pareja's portrait by Velázquez is my favorite painting (every time I see it, it makes me cry) so it was with trepidation and excitement that I started this audio.

The book follows the story of Juan de Pareja and his life as the slave of Diego de Velázquez, the leading painter in the court of King Philip IV of Spain. Historically, we know little of their life except what is portrayed in the paintings and important acts that were documented like marriages and deaths. The author
I enjoy books about real people from long ago, though there is often not enough info to create a biography. This book is from a perspective of a black slave of Diego Velazquez. While Velazquez' paintings are not as luminescent as those I remember seeing while reading "Girl With a Pearl Earring" about Vermeer, I thought the characters created were admirable and worth learning about. Because they were both historical fiction from the perspective of the servant of famous painters, I couldn't help c ...more
An excellent book for young readers, with the caveat that Borton's vocabulary will challenge many.

This is fiction, not biography. Told first person through Juan's eyes, this story of himself and the seventeenth century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez develops in a warm and realistic manner. It betrays it 1965 origin by not sufficiently projecting then current American attitudes toward race and slavery unto its main characters. Yet, in her way, Borton does not deny or misrepresent.

The book's New
Ann Carpenter
This book was interesting, and I enjoyed it as I was listening to the audiobook (which disappointed me a bit. I think the narrator should have been male.) But it is not a favorite and I would not really recommend it to any of the kids I know unless they had a particular interest in art. There was not a lot that actually happened, and the time span of decades made it difficult to connect with the characters sometimes.

Perhaps it was the fault of the audiobook narrator at times, but in general I fe
I gave this book 5 stars for several reasons. The first of which probably has more to do with my personal tastes, I have studied art history throughout high school and college, and am fascinated by the subject. The next reason is that there was never a dull moment. The book kept me wanting to read, which is always a sign of a good book. The story was very touching, and I found myself relating to and sympathizing with the main character on several levels. The character development was astounding. ...more
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 p ...more
"The first half of the seventeenth century was brilliant with names that still shine with the luster of courage, art, science, and glory...Rubens and Van Dyke were painting in the Low Countries: Galileo, Newton, and Harvey were contributing scientific knowledge that would turn conceptions of the material world into new channels.." (from Elizabeth Borton de Trevino's forward)

So along comes Juan de Pareja, a humble, sometimes mistreated slave who changes masters and cities of residence until fina
One of my summer reading goals was to read three Newbery Medal winning books that I hadn't before. I brought three home from the library at random, and this was one of them. I can understand why it won the Newbery Medal. It's a beautiful and well-written piece of historical fiction, with luminescent characters and an engaging story line. I can also see why it's not popular with today's young readers. Unfortunately, historical fiction seems to have really fallen out of favor with the readers of t ...more
A slow-moving, typical Newbery. I'm starting to get a hunch that some of these slow-moving, typical Newberies were chosen because of the beauty of the writing. That's most likely the case with Juan, who's narration is nice, with some great descriptions of art, but quite matter-of-fact. It isn't as much a book about art then a book about the adventure of life and helping your friends along the way. Also, it could have ended way earlier than it did, and I tend to feel inclined to subtract a star o ...more
Katharine Ott
"I, Juan de Pareja, was born into slavery early in the seventeenth century." I have never yet been disappointed with a winner of the Newbery Medal and "I, Juan de Pareja," the 1966 winner by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino kept my string intact. With expressive descriptions of people and places, de Trevino introduces us to "a Europe yeasty with new ideas" and towns "bathed in a golden light."

Juan is a slave of African descent, and following the fever death of his mistress in Seville, he becomes the
When the great Velázquez was painting his masterpieces at the Spanish court in the seventeenth century, his colors were expertly mixed and his canvases carefully prepared by his slave, Juan de Pareja. This is the story of Juan and how a slave boy becomes friend, artist and companion through his relationship with Velazquez one of the world's famous painters.
Through Juan’s eyes the reader sees Velázquez’s delightful family, his working habits and the character of the man, his relations with the
Jul 08, 2012 K. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: interested in YA multicultural books, faith, courage, gratitude
Recommended to K. by: JoDean
Contender for 12/13 read aloud. I would say "yes" on this one.

Despite probable great liberties taken with history (including the wife of Velazquez dying before her husband) this was a great little book.

Really, it was unexpected. This man, Juan de Pareja, was the inherited (from an Aunt?) slave of a great Spanish painter. This book portrays him as a deeply religious, humane, compassionate and talented person who is grateful for his life, despite his slavery.

I don't know that I've ever read a b
I read this aloud to the kids (ages 8 and 6) and we all enjoyed it - they usually color while I read, but they ask questions so I know they are listening most of the time. The language was a bit over their heads - even a few words I was unsure of - but the story was very interesting.
This is juvenile historical fiction about Diego Velazquez (the painter) and his slave, Juan de Pareja. I love reading stories about real people and events to the kids, even if they are fictionalized, because then we
Benjamin Thomas
Found this book on my shelves, left over from the days when we home-schooled our children. It's a nice historical fiction/biography for young people and I really enjoyed delving into a time and subject matter that I knew so little about.

Not all that much, apparently, is really known about the Spanish painter, Diego Velazquez, but his influence on art and artistic style is profound. This is the story of a slave, Juan de Pareja, who comes into the household of the great painter and becomes a stude

Trevino's 1966 Newbery winner may seem a sleeper by today's standards of violence and adult themes in YA literature. Nevertheless, I consider it an excellent representative for both Biography and Historical Fiction genres. Careful research yields authentic 17th century detail as Trevnio recreates the Baroque court of Spain, from the viewpoint of the royal painter, Diego Velasquez, and his faithful Black slave, Juan de Pareja.

Narrated in the first person by
I liked this book, and when I researched a few of the paintings that are described I liked it even more. What an interesting take on a life story. Partly true, partly imagined and yet plausible.

"In this I was prophetic, or intuitive; call it what you will, I have often had these flashes of news in advance of their happening."

"I do not remember much more of that long time away from Spain. Most of the Italian towns have blurred together and become one in my memory. They were beautiful, with solid
The other John
This is enjoyable biography of a noble and compassionate man, a slave who overcame the obstacles in his life to become a great painter. Unfortunately, it's not true. Well, I should say it's based on reality, but like the author herself says, "very little, for certain is known about [Juan de Pareja]." What is known is that Sr. Pareja was a slave, and was inherited by the great Spanish artist Diego Velázquez. We also know that Sr. Pareja became a painter, despite the fact that a slave was forbidde ...more
This is an interesting fictionalization of an untold story. An odd quirk of Spanish law allowed slaves to be craftsmen, but not creative artists in any medium. Thus Juanico, slave to the great painter Velasquez, is limited by law to helping him to prepare canvases and mix his paints. His dream, though, is to become an actual artist, like the apprentices that Velasquez teaches. Oddly, in this portrayal, he doesn't ever dream of freedom. The author permits another slave character to express those ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Jacque rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Middle school to adult
Wonderful fictionalized story of the relationship between real life 17th Century characters: Spanish artist Velazquez and his slave, assistant, and friend, Juan de Pareja.

There is so much packed into this short, 200 page read: It is rich in art history, cultural history, actual events, actual artwork now hanging in musueums around the world, character growth, relationships, including slave/master relationships, Royal court customs, health practices of the time, religious practices, beautiful quo
Juan de Pareja was born a slave in 17th century Spain. When his mistress died, he was sent with the rest of her goods to her nephew, the painter Diego Velasquez. Despite their differences in station, the two men become friends, and eventually Juan becomes an artist in his own right, despite it being illegal to teach a slave any of the arts. Very interesting story, with a lot of detail about life in Spain and Italy during that time.
This may have been my first introduction to art history. I fell in love with everything about it. I just really loved that everyone has a story, that the people who made all those old paintings were real. They loved other people, had friendships and heartbreak. And when I went to the Met and saw the painting of Juan de Pareja, I was just so happy. Anyway, great book.
Georgia Herod
Just finished reading I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Burton de Trevino, a Newbery Medal book, published in 1965. A friend had sent a box of books for my grand girls, with this in it. I've heard of it, but never read it. It's probably written for 5th-8th graders, but it is a quite sophisticated historical novel set in 17th century Spain and Italy, with Juan Pareja as the slave to Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez, outstanding portraitist. It's beautifully written, rich in imagery, depth in cha ...more
Ruth E.
1966 Nebery winnr - author/illustrator Elizabeth Borton deTrevino- The story of Juan de Pareja, who was born a slave and given to his first misstress's nephew, who was the great Spanish artist, Velazquez. This is the story of their lives together as master and slave. How they becam companions and endedd with them being equals and friends. Juan paints secretly as it is against the law for slaves to paint. He is given his freedom and marries Llolis his misstress's slave who is also given her freed ...more
Anita Williamson
I enjoyed this book and would probably give it 3 1/2 stars. I thought the author was very respectful of Velazquez and showed him to be a true man of honor. Hopefully he was that in real life. I always thought artists were eccentric geniuses that couldn't hold jobs, nor be dependable or loyal. If the book was an accurate representation then Velasquez was indeed all that.

I liked the idea of telling the story through the slave. I was touched with the way the master slave relationship was handled. T
"I, Juan de Pareja" is about a black slave boy born in Seville, Spain in 1607, who belongs to a wealthy older woman. His mother, also owned by the woman, died when he was a boy. His mistress treats him well and teaches him the alphabet and how to write letters. Sadly she and the rest of the household die from the plague. Juan is sent to live with the woman’s nephew, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (known predominantly as Velazquez in the book), a painter in Madrid. Juan longs to paint, but ...more
Feb 07, 2013 Glenda added it
Shelves: mother-son

Fun one to read with Carter. Now to get out the oils and canvas. We need a cold rainy day, oh tomorrow!!!!
I really liked this book. I realized something about myself as I read, I really like historical fiction, and apparently I also love a good narrative. There is something intriguing about reading about what someone could have been like. I felt almost instantly connected to Juan. He was a kind boy, who simply did his job well and in doing his job well he was deeply loved. So often we think we need power or we want to be important and this is a wonderful reminder that we simply need to be who we hav ...more
I thought that this book was really good but I felt in some spots, it felt like the emotions that were trying to be conveyed were superficial and not genuine. Obviously, this is difficult because it happened a long time ago and most of the events are from Treviño's imagination. It is a good book and I enjoyed it but it isn't something that I would recommend to another because at times I was very bored. It was very descriptive and I could see the events as if they were happening in front of me, a ...more
I have so many reasons why this book is one of my favorites but let's start from the beginning. First, I have always been fascinated by history and when I bought this book I knew I'd like it far before I even actually started reading it. Second, nobody tells historical nonfiction and puts it in a novel like Trevino, making it far much more interesting than any fictional novel ever did. Third, as I was reading this book I didn't know what to think about first- the unbelievably good description an ...more

I've had I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino sitting on my shelf at work for years. I decided this year I was going to read a Newbery a month. Finally, I have an excuse for this one beyond "Oh, it's in my section. I should read that." de Trevino won the 1966 Newbery Medal for this, and it's quite good. Not perfect, but a pretty good book.

For the record this is a very quiet book. It builds up slowly though it's under two hundred pages long. It details the life of a slave, Juan de Par
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Elizabeth Borton de Treviño was the highly acclaimed author of many books for young people. Born in California, it was her move to Mexico in the 1930s that inspired many of her books, including El Güero: A True Adventure Story and Leona: A Love Story. She won the Newbery Medal in 1966 for I, Juan de Pareja.

Elizabeth was born in Bakersfield, California, the daughter of attorney Fred Ellsworth Borto
More about Elizabeth Borton de Treviño...
My Heart Lies South: The Story of My Mexican Marriage El Guero: A True Adventure Story Casilda of the Rising Moon: A Tale of Magic and of Faith, of Knights and a Saint in Medieval Spain Nacar, the White Deer: A Story of Old Mexico Where the Heart Is: at home in Mexico

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“Art should be truth; and truth, unadorned, unsentimentalized, is beauty.” 6 likes
“He accorded his art the highest respect, that of never taking it for granted. Always, as long as he lived, he tried to learn more, in order to serve it better.” 3 likes
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