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Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo Hardcover – July 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–Using the story of a country girl and her brother hunting for their mother in the maze of Mexico City in 1940 as a framework, Hill introduces the tempestuous life and art of Frida Kahlo, who befriends the children. The book is deftly written with keen attention to characterization and setting; the author lovingly describes the sights and sounds of both rural and urban Mexico. Fourteen-year-old Maria Ortiz and her younger brother, Victor, as well as ancillary characters like Fulang the monkey and Chica the cat are rendered in believable terms (although believable only goes so far when some of the protagonists are talking animals). Indeed, comic personalities like these and a sentient sugar skull allow readers to identify more easily with Kahlo's complex world. Despite some incredulous plotting (Frida and Diego Rivera, recently divorced, reuniting to foil a diamond heist!), Hill's short art-history novel accomplishes with style what it is meant to do–offer an introduction to a solitary, difficult person.–Steev Baker, Kewaskum Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 7-10. Two lost kids on the streets of Mexico City find a home with the great artist Frida Kahlo in her house, Casa Azul, a place not only safe but also magic, and they enter her world as she sees it. In the spirit of Kahlo's life and art, the magical realism is both playful and dark. Kahlo believes everything talks--the cat, a hummingbird, a monkey, a skull, the portraits on her walls. They argue, protect her, and worry about her suicidal depression and her passionate, on-and-off relationship with Diego Rivera. But for all the story about the two children, what will hold readers is the jargon-free talk about Kahlo's work, focusing on the surrealist self-portrait on the jacket, in which she's surrounded by all kinds of creatures and has a dead hummingbird hanging from her necklace. A useful biography and a time line provide the bare facts, and Hill also quotes Kahlo about "the rich magic of a painting" compared with the limits of a photograph. A book that raises many exciting questions about art and truth. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Laban Carrick Hill does an excellent job of personifying the name, Frida Kahlo, that students often read in textbooks. The parallel stories especially add to the drama because the reader is constantly wondering about what is happening to the other characters until they finally all meet each other. Casa Azul is a page turner not only because of the depth into which each story is told but more so because of the switching view points. Similar to historical fiction telling the stories of figures of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Hill's art fiction draws the reader into the history a lot more than a textbook would and definitely gives a more personable account of a famous person. I doubt that Casa Azul will become a best seller but it is definitely worth reading whether one knows anything about Frida Kahlo or not. I wish the author would have included more historical facts about the Mexican Revolution istead of just hinting at it.
Reviewed by a student reviewer for Flamingnet Book Reviews
Preteen, teen, and young adult book reviews and recommendations