Me, Frida

Amy Novesky, illus, by David Diaz. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8969-6
Novesky's (Elephant Prince) portrait of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo depicts the artist as a reticent newcomer in a foreign country, who gradually gains self-confidence from her surroundings. Overflowing with compelling imagery ("Frida especially loved Chinatown. It smelled of incense, fish, and fog"), the story also incorporates the motif of Kahlo as a tiny bird. Married to muralist Diego Rivera, Kahlo is overshadowed by her adoring husband's size and reputation: "Diego, big as an elephant; Frida, a lovely little bird on his arm." When she and Rivera fly to San Francisco in 1930, they are shown holding hands and soaring—sans airplane—up the coastline. Readers will notice a small, pink bird in nearly every scene, the same one that appears in the painting that helped launch Kahlo's career. Vibrant spreads feature backdrops of warm colors dripping into cooler ones (and vice versa), just as the brightly dressed, bejeweled Kahlo melded with the damp, gray city. Diaz's (Ocean's Child) overlapping complementary colors add a gorgeous yet slightly unsettling visual element, his intense hues and folk/naïve style recalling Kahlo's work. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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