Beset by one shattering ordeal after another, world-renowned painter Frida Kahlo always managed to channel her anguish into creativity. Frida, by Jonah Winter and illustrator Ana Juan, is an exquisite and playful glimpse into the artist's life and work. Filled with the folk art icons of Frida's Mexican culture--monkeys, devils, smiling skeletons, and sympathetic jaguars depicted with acrylics and wax on paper--the book describes, in short streams of text, the feisty, irreverent, fierce nature of the artist. One especially memorable illustration, based on one of Frida Kahlo's own paintings, shows Frida herself caught in a tangle of thorns against a mournful blue night sky. The text reads, "After the accident ... her body will hurt, always." Author and illustrator's notes add background information, but this stunning book from the author of Diego, about famed Mexican muralist (and husband of Frida) Diego Rivera, is a spectacular, lush introduction to an inspiring woman and her art. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Winter, who brought the Mexican muralist vividly to life in Diego, focuses on Diego Rivera's bride, Frida Kahlo an accomplished artist in her own right in this striking picture book-biography. With a spare narrative more akin to poetry than prose, the author touches on important events in his subject's childhood Frida's loneliness and the polio that kept her bedridden for months, as well as a bus accident, at age 18, that nearly killed her. He then shows how, each time, art helped her to transcend her injuries ("She turns her pain into something beautiful") and to unleash her magically surreal vision of the world in paintings ("In museums, people still look at them and weep and sigh and smile"). Juan, a Spanish fine artist and New Yorker cover artist making her children's book debut, creates artwork bursting with saturated color and infused with Mexican folk art motifs that also influenced Frida's own style. Floating figures, fantastical creatures and celestial bodies with human features cavort across the pages. Ana transforms Frida herself from a solemn, moon-faced child with uncompromising eyebrows (her well-known physical trait) to a woman whose gaunt features hint at both strength and inner struggle. One particularly breathtaking image shows the artist floating against a night sky, eyes closed and arms crossed on her chest in a death pose, held in the grip of a tree's thorny, gnarled branches ("Her body will hurt, always"). An outstanding introduction to an influential artist. Ages 4-10.
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