I recently traveled to Mexico City to spend the holidays with my son and his wife who are currently living there. No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to Casa Azul in Coyoacan, which was the home of Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), who has long been one of my favorite artists. I love the very intimate nature of Kahlo’s paintings which are often self-portraits, done in a wonderfully magical style. Although her paintings are quite dreamlike, Frida stated, “I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” I also admire Kahlo for the way she lived her life with abandon, despite the ever-present pain she was in and the many operations she endured throughout her life after surviving a catastrophic bus accident when she was a teenager.
My trip inspired me to put together a list of books about Frida Kahlo that are in the youth collection at the Whitefish Bay Public Library.
The bilingual book, Viva Frida, was written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales with photography by Tim O'Meara. Morales won the Pura Belpre Award in 2015 for her use of puppets to tell the story of Frida’s life. The Pura Belpre award recognizes authors and illustrators for their outstanding portrayal of the Latino cultural experience in children’s literature.
In Frida by Jonah Winter, the whimsical illustrations by Ana Juan capture perfectly the spirit of Kahlo’s art and life. I was enchanted by the imaginary creatures who appear with Frida on every page. I was also drawn to the lovely font and the creative way the author wove the text into the art on each page.
I am Frida Kahlo by Brad Meltzer with illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos is part of the popular “Ordinary People Change the World” series. This book tells Frida’s story in the first person with cartoon-like images.
Who Was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny with illustrations by Jerry Hoare is part of the “Who Was … ?” series. This short chapter book about Frida’s life and her art includes black and white illustrations.
Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring is a chapter book by Angela Cervantes. Paloma, a young Mexican-American girl, travels to Mexico City where she meets siblings whom she helps search for a missing peacock ring that once belonged to Frida Kahlo. Although the story is fictional, the reader will learn much about Frida Kahlo’s real life as the children search for the ring.
The author Monica Brown in her book, Frida Kahlo and her animalitos, uses the characteristics of Frida’s many pets to tell her life story. The wonderful illustrations by John Parra bring to life Frida and her pets, which included three dogs, two monkeys, two turkeys, a cat, a fawn, a parrot, and an eagle. Frida often included her pets in her many self-portraits.
Frida: viva la vida = long live life is a collection of original poems written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, each of which is about a different aspect of Frida Kahlo’s life as revealed in her paintings. Accompanying the poems are reproductions of the paintings.
Finally, in our young adult non-fiction collection is Frida & Diego: art, love, life by Catherine Reef. This book focuses on the lives that Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera, the great Mexican muralist lived, both together and apart, as they had a very stormy relationship. It includes many photographs as well as high-quality reproductions of their artworks.
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