Children's LiteratureSince Kahlo has become a cult figure in the art world as well as in the worlds of feminism and Mexican nationalism, young art lovers may welcome an accessible exploration of her life and work. The "Artists in Their Time" series also emphasizes the historical period, an aspect sometimes neglected in similar series. Students can read about Kahlo's childhood, her terrible accident, her suffering, her marriage to Diego Rivera, and her lifelong commitment to Mexico's poor and disenfranchised. Numerous reproductions of her work are accompanied by interpretations that are understandable to young adults. Author Laidlaw succeeds fairly well at a task difficult for all biographers for children: how much to tell? Artists are, after all, unlikely to behave as typical members of the bourgeoisie. Some significant details of Kahlo's life have been omitted; for example, Rivera's affair that caused Frida such pain (he had had many before) was with her younger sister Cristina. Her own love affairs, her smoking and drinking and, for that matter, her love of parties, jokes, elegant clothes and art objects are not mentioned, making her seem much more solemn and saintly than may have been the case. Sidebars or sections on subjects like communism, surrealism, retablos (all important to an understanding of Kahlo) are, however, sprinkled throughout. The narrative and illustrations achieve what is probably a good balance of information for readers of this age, who, if they become intrigued with Kahlo's work, can always delve more deeply into her life as they mature in understanding. 2003, Franklin Watts/Scholastic, Talcroft
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-8-The difficult and tempestuous life of the Mexican artist and Communist activist is not something that is easily distilled into an accessible format for this audience. Laidlaw rises to the challenge and relates the story of Kahlo's life, her politics, and her ongoing physical struggles following a near-fatal accident as a schoolgirl. The text is clear, concise, and written with vigor. Frequent sidebars ("The Great Depression," "Leon Trotsky," "Surrealism") and a running time line at the bottom of many verso pages help readers to understand the context in which Kahlo lived and worked. The large, full-color reproductions of her paintings are excellent, and numerous archival photographs and quotes add a personal and immediate connection to the artist's life.-Toniann Scime, Amherst Museum, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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