The Frida Kahlo Series: Part Two
The Frida Kahlo Series: Part Two
There are two picture books about artist Frida Kahlo which PudStar has read so many times now she must surely know them by heart. They are both works of art in themselves and are highly recommended additions to your home, school or library collection as beautiful examples of high quality picture books. Either or both of these books would make excellent gifts for any art-loving child or adult and really, both could be hanging on art gallery walls!
Frida’s life story is at times quite dark, so please do consider this when reading these books with young children. To be honest I would say that these books are aimed at older readers and art-loving adults – but if I have pre-read a book I don’t worry too much about age ranges. I’m a fan of books for young people which do not gloss over the pain and suffering which can occur in the world but you do of course need to choose the right time to read such books. When PudStar said one day that she’d really rather like to stay in bed for months and draw and paint (as Frida did after an accident and then illness) we did think that maybe it was time to read some joy and happiness filled books!
Written by Amy Novesky. Illustrated by David Diaz. Published by Abrams Books.
Awards:ALA Notable Book; FOCAL Award, Los Angeles Public Library, 2011; Pura Belpre Honor Book, Illustration; Best Picture Book, International Latino Book Award, 2011; Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2011; SCIBA Book Award Finalist, Children’s Picture Book.
Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she arrives in San Francisco with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera. It is the first time she has left her home in Mexico. And Frida wants to be a painter too.
‘Me, Frida’ charts the year 1930-1931 in Frida Kahlo’s life, the year she travelled to San Francisco with her new husband Diego Rivera, who had been commissioned to paint a mural for the city. Frida’s sense of loneliness and isolation is evident in both the text and the illustrations in the initial pages of this exquisite book. As Frida’s confidence grows, she explores San Francisco, both alone and with Diego and she begins to paint in her very distinctive style.
The now iconic wedding portrait that she painted in this year has Frida pictured as very small next to her husband Diego, as she knew this was how the world saw them. However Frida knew that she was more than ‘just’ Diego’s wife and ‘Me, Frida’ inspires readers to believe in themselves despite how the world may view them.
‘Me, Frida’ does not mention the childhood accident and illness and the subsequent life-long pain that were also key in Frida’s life story. However, she is pictured throughout the book with a walking cane and astute young readers will wonder why and be on their way to research the reason for this. I personally love that this book deals with one very influential year in Frida’s artistic and personal life and leaves other books to complete the picture of her life.
The illustrations are luscious explosions of colour and exquisite pattern which are works of art in themselves. This is a very high quality picture book and is deserving of every accolade it has received.
Written by Jonah Winter. Illustrated by Ana Juan. Published by Scholastic.
Awards:Americas Award Honor Book; Parenting Magazine Best Book of 2002; 2002 Parents’ Choice Gold Award (includes both English & Spanish texts); National Association of Parenting Publications Gold Award; Society of Illustrators Original Art Show selection; ALA Notable Book.
‘Frida’ takes a different approach to the previous two books, focussing on the acute pain which Frida lived with for much of her life and how this influenced her art: a tough topic for a children’s book but Winter and Juan have done an outstanding job and this book is a worthy companion to Winter’s acclaimed ‘Diego’ which details the life of Frida’s famous artist husband.
‘Frida’ is very much a brief biography of this much loved artist and revolutionary and is an excellent introduction to her life and the influences on her work. It details her early years and how, when Frida’s mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave Frida lessons in brushwork and colour. When polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved Frida from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, Frida’s paintings expressed her pain and depression – and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. This book is an insightful tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists.
There is an interview on the Scholastic website here with author Jonah Winter.