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I, Juan de Pareja  By  cover art

I, Juan de Pareja

By: Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
Narrated by: Johanna Ward
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Publisher's summary

In the era of Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyke, Spain had its own great painter: Diego Velasquez. His assistant is an African slave, Juan, who, by helping his master in his studio in the preparation of paints and stretching of canvasses, becomes an artist himself. Self-taught by watching his master's technique, he is torn between the need to keep his secret, for such work as the creation of art is forbidden to slaves, and the desire to reveal his own talents.
©1965 Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks

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What listeners say about I, Juan de Pareja

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, just beautiful!

We chose this book from the suggested literature list in The Story of the World, Activity Book 3: Early Modern Times. I had never heard of the book and with younger children, we decided to use the audio version. I am so glad we did! As a read-a-loud to the children it would have lacked the fluid speech that this book deserves. The narrator brings Juan to life in a way that I never could have done.

My children are 10, 8 and 6. There were a few points in the book where I needed to stop and explain the situation. Also, the scene in the monastery where there is a discussion about live models for the crucifixes required some discussion about death, life and customs of the times.

The book itself is tragic, painful, heart-wrenching and beautiful. At times there are beatings and cruelty, yet there is a greater priority on love and redemption. It is a rich and beautiful story of a slave looking back on his life. Without giving anything away, we shed many tears together during this book.

I will say this, only two chapters in, the children were asking if we could listen to the book several times over! It was just beautiful! We will gladly listen again and again!

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding narration of a beautiful story

Although this is a fictional biography, it is based on several known historical events in the lives of 17th century Spanish painter Velasquez and his long time slave Juan de Pareja, whom he later freed for Pareja to pursue his own artistic career. The historical figures are made very real and human and accessible. Johanna Ward’s narration is superb, and does not sound at all like “reading”. I found myself dashing to the internet to view the paintings that were described in the story, and it was a much more interesting experience than simply viewing old paintings in an art history class. Thank you for making this time period and these real people come alive for me!

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Spanish Art intro, but only somewhat “Woke”

It was published in 1967, so Juan’s portrayal might be overly accommodating to the institution of black slavery. That said, it’s a quite human book about a clever yet sensitive man trying to make the best of a very unfair life that also has some very silver linings.

But if you want an intro to Piquaresque literature, Spanish history, and Siglo de Oro art — it’s crazy good.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 09-12-18

One of my favorites!!!😍

I read this in 4th grade and pretty much completely forgot the story after that. When my brother read it in school, we bought it as an audiobook and it is amazing. There are so many touching moments and the narrator has such a great voice and impersonates the characters so well! This book can be enjoyed by all ages! 🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨🎨

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Classic

If you could sum up I, Juan de Pareja in three words, what would they be?

If I could sum up this story in 3 words it would be classic, inspiring, and moving.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character was Juan because he always seemed helpful and joyful, even in the most dire situations.

Have you listened to any of Johanna Ward’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

If I, Juan de Pareja was a film, the tag line should be:"An inspiring moment."

Any additional comments?

Listen to it or read the book. It will not be a waste of your time.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

Our entire family enjoyed listening to this. My oldest has it as part of her history readers with Sonlight, but our family of various ages loved it.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful!

Beautiful story of friendship and respect, of life, of men with integrity. Great reading of a great book.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Lovely story

I’d like to think this is the way things happened. Beautifully told. Lovely narrator. Both my boys enjoyed this book as well.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic and Engaging

What a wonderful story. I had never hear of Juan de Pareja, but couldn’t put this story down. Excellent narration and a beautiful story based on true facts. What a joy!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

wonderful story

Wonderful story well narrated. I would read this again
I highly recommend this book a good read

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