[DiverseKidLit] Picturebook Biographies on Frida Kahlo

Myra here.

Our theme for this month’s Diverse Children’s Books linkups is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

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We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, 5 November and on the first and third Saturdays of every month.

Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit linkup features super-talented author-illustrated Kadir Nelson. Miss T’s Book Room shares a brief biography of Nelson and his long-list of awards and amazing picture books. If you are not yet familiar with his work, you are in for a treat!

My #DiverseKitLit Shout-Out

Mark your calendars for Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Jan. 27, 2017! Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an all-day (really, more like all-month) celebration of diverse books. Opportunities are currently available for teachers and bloggers to receive a free diverse book to review as part of the event. Interested parents can also win books through various giveaways. This is another great way to bring attention to diverse books, and I hope you’ll consider joining in!

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Last year, I shared two gorgeous picturebook biographies (PBBs) on Frida Kahlo done exquisitely by Yuyi Morales, Amy Novesky and David Diaz. This year, I am happy to once again share two lovely titles that pay tribute to Frida’s transcendent beauty, feisty spirit, and how she was able to successfully transform pain into art, as we celebrate artists and rebels in literature until end of October.


img_7123Little People Big Dreams: Frida Kahlo

Written by: Ma Isabel Sánchez Vegara Illustrated by: Gee Fan Eng Translated by: Emma Martinez
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2014
ISBN: 1847807836 (ISBN13: 9781847807830) 
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This is the first book I read from the Little People Big Dreams Series, and I am liking it so far. Unlike in the two PBBs I shared last year which focused on specific moments of Frida’s life, this one attempts to depict her entire life narrative from childhood to adult life and death. The fact that she was hugely different from everyone else since her early years was also mentioned here, particularly her being afflicted with polio which “made her leg as skinny as a rake.”

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I also love how in the illustrations, Frida’s distinctiveness is highlighted – be it in her hairstyle, her nose, or facial features. While everyone else is portrayed as not having eyebrows, her ubiquitous one stands out quite glaringly.

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The vehicular accident that changed her life was also shown in this story, which prompted her to turn to art for solace and redemption.

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While her struggles were mentioned, they were never over-emphasized for dramatic effect, but stated matter-of-factly, making her strength of character and her indomitable spirit shine even more. A detailed timeline complete with actual photographs of Frida in the years 1919, 1939 (with Diego Rivera), 1942-5, and 1944 could also be found at the end of the book, providing even more details to the narrative. Definitely a book you should add to your Frida collection.

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Written by: Jonah Winter Illustrated by: Ana Juan
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books: An Imprint of Scholastic, Inc., 2002
ISBN: 0590203207 (ISBN13: 9780590203203) 
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

I am in awe of anything and everything that Ana Juan makes. I think she is absolutely brilliant and I bought two of her picturebooks while I was in Madrid

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and ordered a few more besides when I got back in Singapore to share her stunning art with the teachers and librarians here. And so it is always a rare treat to see her art in English picturebooks. When I found out she illustrated a Frida picturebook biography, I knew that this is one I would have to see.

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From the title page alone, I think it is evident how Ana Juan has done justice to Frida’s sun-like energies and her many contradictions and paradoxes with the dark in her light, the beauty in her pain.

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Similar to the first book above, this one also traces Frida’s history from childhood until the time of her death with Jonah Winter’s masterfully-worded narrative. With Ana Juan’s art, however, this book takes on a different quality altogether – as you can see from the image above with Frida’s imagined doll.

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Her bus accident was also depicted here, but in  a largely surreal version altogether that references Mexico’s supernatural elements.

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This image above is one of the most unforgettable for me in this gorgeous picturebook. It shows in thorny detail how Frida’s accident would bring her so much pain throughout the rest of her days, how she has embraced this pain, made it hers, and transformed it to something extraordinary. The Author’s and Illustrator’s Notes are also worth noting as they shared what inspired them to create both narrative and art. This is a book you should experience for yourself.

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2 Comments on [DiverseKidLit] Picturebook Biographies on Frida Kahlo

  1. I love picture book biographies – the very different ways in which authors and illustrators can bring the same person to life is just astounding!

    Like

  2. I love the Frida books! I have another one that I’ve read with my daughter, but it is in Spanish… and the lil’ libros guys also put out a super cute one! I did not now of the Ana Juan one, and her illustrations do look amazing. I have to get that one for sure! Visiting from the #DiverseKidLIt linky 🙂

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