Me, Frida

Overview

Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she arrives in San Francisco with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera. It is the first time she has left her home in Mexico. And Frida wants to be a painter too.

But as Frida begins to explore San Francisco on her own, she discovers more than the beauty, diversity, and exuberance of America. She finds the inspiration she needs to become one of the most celebrated ...

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Overview

Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she arrives in San Francisco with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera. It is the first time she has left her home in Mexico. And Frida wants to be a painter too.

But as Frida begins to explore San Francisco on her own, she discovers more than the beauty, diversity, and exuberance of America. She finds the inspiration she needs to become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.

Me, Frida is an exhilarating true story that encourages children to believe in themselves so they can make their own dreams soar.

Praise for Me, Frida
"The writing is lucid, the emotions are universal, and the illustrations soar. Glowing with warm, vibrant colors, the charcoal and acrylic paintings create distinctive, statuesque people within imaginatively conceived landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors." –Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
In 1930, Frida Kahlo accompanied her husband Diego Rivera to San Francisco, where he would paint murals. Frida was unknown in the United States, except as the wife of famous artist Rivera. Though she had dreamed of visiting beautiful San Francisco, Frida found the reality quite different. Novesky has taken details from that experience to fashion a story of Kahlo's awakening to her own talent and asserting herself as an artist apart from her larger-than-life, overbearing husband. Of course Novesky does not tell all—not in a book for young readers. Rather, she and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Diaz, have created a colorful private world for Kahlo as, while ignored by Rivera, she explores San Francisco, delighting in places like Chinatown—where she buys jewelry and silks for skirts—and the glorious headlands of Marin County. (Though Diaz shows Kahlo with a cane as she walks, no mention is made of her childhood polio or her terrible injuries in a bus accident.) Singing Mexican folksongs (in reality, bawdy ones), wearing her beautiful Tehuana dresses and ancient jewelry, flirting, and painting, Kahlo makes herself known. Young art-lovers are introduced to her 1931 portrait, Frieda and Diego Rivera, showing the pair often known as "the elephant and the dove." Indeed, her message appears in the beak of a pink dove (recalling Mexican folk art); unfortunately, a reproduction of the painting is small and dark. Except for her signature eyebrows, Diaz's Frida doesn't look much like the real artist, whose mouth and nose were smaller, her eyes and hair darker. Still, Diaz's brilliant hues form shimmering runs of color for backgrounds, while the use of symbols like the sun, moon, and cactus evoke Kahlo's later work. Call it an imaginative introduction to an intriguing artist; Kahlo's pain, passion, and politics can wait until readers are older. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—This picture book focuses on the year that Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, spent in San Francisco while he worked on murals for the Pacific Stock Exchange. It was 1930 and Frida was young, newly married, and just beginning her own career as a painter. She had never been out of Mexico and everything about this trip was new and overwhelming. Novesky adeptly tells how Kahlo began to gain her confidence and find her place in the world, using the city and its surroundings as inspiration for her own work. The writing is succinct and careful, and a portrait of Frida as a strong, feisty woman comes through clearly. Diaz's acrylic and charcoal paintings echo Kahlo's own folkloric style, brimming with color and detail, but are unique as well, providing a rich complement to the text. This is a solid choice as a supplement for a biography collection, but libraries looking for a way to introduce the artist should turn to Jonah Winter's Frida (Scholastic, 2002) or Margaret Frith's Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself (Grosset & Dunlap, 2003) instead.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews

A lushly painted picture book about the artist Frida Kahlo during her time in San Francisco with her husband, Diego Rivera. Figuring a pink bird on most pages as muse and symbol of the quiet, newly married Frida, Diaz's brilliant charcoal-and-acrylic paintings trace young Frida's feelings about the move, her first away from Mexico. The brilliant spreads chronicle the dramatic sunrises of the city, crisp blue days in the redwoods and the welcome reds of Chinatown. Frida's depicted as balancing a cane to indicate her lifelong infirmities, her long skirts and decorated hair remind the reader of her Mexican roots and the relative size of Rivera and Kahlo changes to show how Kahlo was feeling about herself. This story, though, one of an artistic Cinderella, begs for more information. Alas, the wan author's note and the lack of a timeline or bibliography leave young readers with little more than a snapshot of this artist. Though Kahlo's full, complicated, enigmatic life asks for a more mature audience (see Carmen T. Bernier-Grand'sexcellent Frida: Viva la Vida, 2007), this serves as a passable introduction. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810989696
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 544,349
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Novesky is a children’s book editor and the author of Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh. She lives with her family just north of the city that inspired Frida Kahlo, San Francisco.

David Diaz is the Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator of Smoky Night. He is also a three-time Pura Belpré Honor recipient. He lives in Carlsbad, California.

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