National Poetry Month Kid Lit Review of “Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand


“Painting is poetry
and is always written in verse
with plastic rhymes,
never in prose.”

Pablo Picasso

This lovely representation of Picasso’s life is enhanced by the magical paintings not only by Picasso himself but by the excellent illustrator David Diaz. The text consists of free verse poems focusing not so much on Picasso’s art per se but on the people and events influencing his art.

Picture 2

For those of you who don’t know Picasso’s personal story, this poetic account manages to convey many of the highlights in a short and appealing form. Some of the poems, such as the one accompanying a reproduction of Picasso’s actual portrait of Gertrude Stein, incorporate original source material from biographies. I especially appreciated the stanza that speaks of the influence of Picasso:

“Her portrait.
‘Nobody thinks it is a good likeness,
but never mind, in the end,
she is going to look just like that.’”

Picasso's 1906 portrait of Gertrude Stein

Picasso’s 1906 portrait of Gertrude Stein

There is much in the material that will inspire interest and discussion, such as this quote included in the poem “I am God”:

“God is really another artist.
He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the car.
He has no style. He just keeps trying other things.”

At the end of the book, there is a wealth of material, including background material, a glossary, list of sources and notes, and a chronology.

Picture 1

Discussion: The author doesn’t shy away from writing about the tragic aspects of Picasso’s life, nor about Picasso’s relationships with women, such as this poem:

“Françoise Gilot.
What good fortune!
So young and a painter too.
Her eyebrows like bird wings.
A new conquest, a new passion, a new style,
a new muse to Picasso’s creative art.
He replaces features of his previous lover
with features of his current lover, until –
he asks Françoise to dress in mallow and green.
Blue-stem body,
Venus-blue flower face,
verde-leaf hair.
‘It’s strange, isn’t it? But it’s absolutely you.’”

Diaz’s rich, stylized paintings show an awareness and appreciation of Picasso’s fluidity of perspective, yet also reflect Diaz’s own distinctive mode of expression. Diaz excels here, using his vivid, jewel-like colors and folk art representations to provide a unique interpretation of Picasso’s life and art.

Picture 1

Evaluation: This is another one of those books that needs to be classified in the non-existent-but-should-be genre of Picture Books for Adults. Highly recommended for older children and up!

Rating: 5/5

Published by Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012

Product Details
Hardcover: 64 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761461779
ISBN-13: 978-0761461777


About rhapsodyinbooks

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4 Responses to National Poetry Month Kid Lit Review of “Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

  1. It’s true that Diaz’s illustrations remind me of Picasso’s.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    This looks and sounds fantastic!

  3. I think I need to get my hands on this one and really read it!

  4. bookingmama says:

    You sold me on this one! Fascinating and lovely to look at.

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