FridaSpring 2002 Picture Books
Selma Lanes ©2002 Parents' Choice
Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico's best-known artists, is brought to life for children through the pathos, humor and considerable affection in Winter's story and Juan's illustrations. They describe how from a young age the artist overcame her loneliness and poor health by inventing imaginary friends and, more usefully, by drawing. Even early on, we note her trademark brow, which has been variously interpreted as a scowl masking pain, an innate self-protectiveness signaling "stay away," or simple dignity. Here, Ana Juan presents it without character interpretation. She shows her eyebrows as a flying bird. Juan approximates Kahlo's style, a synthesization of Mexican folk art, flora and fauna, the surrealism that was an emerging painting style of her time, and quite lurid biographical subject matter. Kahlo's lugubriousness is offset by whimsy, and what might have seemed an unlikely subject for a children's book proves enjoyable. As author Jonah Winter notes, "She has specifically been an inspiration to women artists, who have found in Kahlo's strength, courage, and pizzazz an example of how to thrive as a woman in an art world dominated by men."