Friday, November 7, 2008

I, Juan de Pareja

We REALLY enjoyed reading this book- I would put it on our favourites list, right alongside Number the Stars, The Lord of the Rings (well, not quite up that high!), A Single Shard, and Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze.

It was a beautiful story, very vividly descriptive without being wordy. Actually, I think that is what so many of the books I had listed above share: The ability to express simply, but richly, the authors intent; to paint a picture of both setting and the traits of the characters. Now Tolkien is a fabulous crafter of words, and he can pull of using ten words where one might work. However, I find that many authors believe that the more descriptive words you add the better- heap them on. It reminds me of the same themes we find in the homeschool writing world, and I am the first to admit that they both turn me off. But back to the review..

This tale is told from the standpoint of the servant/slave of Velazquez. From the first page this endeared us to the story- how often do we hear history, albeit historical fiction, expressed from the view of it's most trodden upon persons. As the story unfolds we are brought into the world of Michaelangelo, of the Rennaisance, into the courts of Spain, and into the friendship of Velazquez and his servant Juan.

We had read many exciting books leading up to this so at first the pace took some getting used to for the children. Action packed would be a poor description for this book. Thoughtful, descriptive, and at times both emotional and challenging would be better terms to describe it. All four children listened in and were quite still during the reading aloud. This story is one that will definitely stay with all of us.

How many stars then??
Ariel ***** out of 5
Hannah **** out of 5
Mom ****1/2 out of 5

Juan de Pareja, painted by Diego Velazquez

ps sorry for the multiple posts! I was working out the picture sizing.

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