I recently reviewed a picture book about the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) in this blog post. Now that I’ve read two more, I’m here to compare them for you. N.B. As you can imagine, none of them go into the details of her tumultuous marriage.
Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, illustrated by David Diaz (Harry N. Abrams, 2010)
This book about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s move from Mexico to San Francisco focuses on Frida finding her own identity. The story ends with her creating her first painting in her distinctive style (“Freida and Diego Rivera”). The charcoal and acrylic illustrations are vibrant and a small reproduction of the painting is included at the end. I like the way Me, Frida tells a story of part of the artist’s life rather than covering it all, like a picture book biography. Frida’s feelings would be an excellent point of discussion with your children. Recommended for ages 6-8.
Frida by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Ana Juan (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002)
The text of Frida is the shortest of the three books that I read. It doesn’t go into detail, such as identifying her illness as polio, and it doesn’t cover her marriage or her move to U.S. or other travels. (Some of those details are given in the author’s note at the end.) The illustrations are full of wild imaginings (e.g. fruit with faces, funny skeletons, crying moons); in this way the illustrator imitates Frida Kahlo’s style instead of including reproductions of her paintings. Although I did not particularly enjoy the pictures or want to share them with my young children, I appreciated the inclusion of an artist’s note explaining the characters from Mexican folk art. Recommended for ages
Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself by Margaret Frith, illustrated by Tomie de Paola (Grosset & Dunlap, 2003)
This was my favourite of the three books. Written as a report by a school child with the same name (spelled Frieda), it has a personable tone. It explains different concepts and includes things children might wonder (e.g. why she painted certain things, like one painting with two Fridas in it). This book covers Frida’s entire life (minus extramarital affairs, divorce, and remarriage), showing the hardships she went through and her vivid imagination. The illustrations include many paintings (with titles and dates) and some photographs. I really enjoyed the annotations by the narrator (e.g. “See the hand earrings?” and “This is Mae West. She was a big movie star.”). Recommended for ages 5-9.
Featured image: “Frida Kahlo Biography” on the biography.com website