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Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos

by Monica Brown

School Library Journal Gr 1-4-Two well-known children's book creators present the life of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo through the kid-friendly lens of her animal friends. Kahlo's life as a young girl at La Casa Azul was marked by the support of her family, illness, and her "animalitos," or the many pets and creatures that she loved. Each spread introduces a new animal, from Bonito the parrot to her spider monkeys Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal. The text often makes comparisons between the featured critters and the independent, free-spirited girl and budding artist. Throughout, Brown makes references to Kahlo's love of and inspiration by her Aztec culture, which was often seen in her art and evidenced by her pets' names. The picture book biography touches only briefly upon some of the artist's life-changing events, such as the accident she experienced in her teens or her marriage to Diego Rivera, but instead emphasizes the companionship of the animals with which she surrounded herself. Parra's lively acrylic paintings pay tribute to the vibrant hues of Kahlo's paintings, and her ties to her Mexican and Aztec heritage are apparent. A detailed author's note about the subject's life, art, and influence concludes the book and lists the many works in which her animalitos appear. VERDICT This unique and gorgeous take on the famous figure's work will give children an accessible entry point to an important artist. A good choice for picture book biography shelves.-Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Featuring charming visuals and lively, often lyrical prose, this picture book introduces Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, interweaving biographical details while highlighting her special relationships with pets. From early efforts at painting, to a childhood illness, to school escapades, Brown takes us into Kahlo's adulthood her developing passion for creating art, her marriage to Diego Rivera, and, finally, her animals. She kept company with spider monkeys, parrots, dogs, turkeys, and much more, and Brown describes each as possessing personalities that reflect Kahlo's own characteristics: Like her eagle, Frida's imagination could fly high. Rich-hued, folk art-style illustrations incorporate evocative touches, fanciful details, and collagelike compositions. Both the accessible art and text convey a sense of how some of Frida's experiences and animals impacted and informed her life and art. Although examples of her actual artwork aren't included, an author's note lists some titles that feature her animals, and provides further biographical information.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Brown uses the pets and animals in Frida Kahlo's life-spider monkeys, a parrot, and a fawn, among others-to emphasize aspects of her personality as she developed into an artist: "Frida's turkeys were intelligent and sensitive, just like her. And, like Frida, her dogs were warm and loving." Along with highlighting Kahlo's tender interactions with the animals, Brown shows how art buoyed her during difficult times, including a bus accident at age 18 that left her with persistent health problems. Parra's warm, weathered paintings are done in a flattened, folk-art style that vividly evokes the Mexican environment and "heritage of which she was very proud." Even if readers don't get much of a sense of the work Kahlo created, they'll finish the book feeling like they know the artist. Ages 4-8. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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