1.20.2011

Me, Frida

32 pages

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top
 
A uthor:  AMY NOVESKY
               and Illustrator:  DAVID DIAZ
C haracters:
Frida Kahlo, an artist from Mexico
Diego Rivera, Frida’s husband
                        and an artist from Mexico

O verview from the jacket flap:

    “Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she first arrives in San Francisco [California in 1930] with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera ... Frida wants to be a painter, too.
     But as Frida begins to explore San Francisco on her own, she discovers more than ... beauty, diversity, and exuberance ...  Frida finds the inspiration she needs ...
     Me, Frida is an exhilarating story that encourages young readers to believe in themselves so they can make their own dreams soar."
 
T antalizing taste: 
"She took a ferry across the Golden Gate and walked
in the green headlands high above the ocean.
     For there, she could see the entire glittering
city and all it held, including Diego.  It was small
enough to fit on the wing of a bird.
     For once, Frida felt larger than life.  Me, Frida!
     She felt like she could fly."
and something more:  The Author's Note in the new children's picture book biography, Me, Frida, includes a reproduction of Frida Kahlo's painting, Frieda [as she sometimes spelled her name] and Diego Rivera.  If you ever have the chance, be sure to visit the painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (usually displayed on the second floor) and check out the interactive multimedia about Frida Kahlo on the SFMOMA website (in English and Spanish).
     When I was a docent at SFMOMA, I always included this painting in my tours for school groups.  Be sure to compare the size of Frida's shoes and Diego's shoes -- not true to life, but instead echoing Amy Novesky's lyrical text: "She painted Diego big, and she painted herself small, just as the world saw them."  But, as the story shows, Frida felt "larger than life" and her dreams soared.
     For older readers (ages 12 and up), the book Frida !Viva la vida! Long Live Life! (Marshall Cavendish Children) by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand pairs powerful biographical poems with Frida's artwork (23 paintings). Carmen writes about the painting, Frieda and Diego Rivera:

"Wednesday, August 21, 1929

Coyoacan - Today the marriage
between the elephant and a dove...
Frida Kahlo wore
a Tehuana peasant dress
and a rebozo created by the people
for the people
who belong to the people."

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