FRIDA

A picture-book homage to the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose indomitable spirit has become a revered icon for struggling women artists. The truncated text outlines her life in a simplistic style, relating her childhood illness and the almost-fatal school bus accident that left her in constant physical pain. It was her painting that saved her, becoming her imaginary friend. Instead of crying, she painted pictures of herself crying. The account ends with a description of her paintings as “exvotos”: “magical scenes with words at the bottom, scenes of accidents with angels coming to the rescue. They are prayers for people who are sick.” Neither her marriage to Diego Rivera nor her death is included. Like Kahlo’s art, the illustrations are strikingly stylized. Done in acrylics and wax, they convey a surrealistic sensibility, using six traditional Mexican characters as a motif (e.g., skeleton, devil, jaguar) and portraying them as Kahlo’s companions. The artwork lends an air of theatricality (her infamous eyebrows are depicted as the wings of a black bird) with the text scripting that effect: “She paints what she sees in her head—on top of what she sees with her eyes.” The enticing cover depicts Kahlo as a child riding on a red bird while she is painting red birds in the sky. Explanatory notes from both author and illustrator provide context and import, citing biographical details and an artistic style that is a tribute to her. Her popularity has increased significantly in recent time—but who is the audience for this book? Certainly, the picture-book format can serve as an introduction to this exotic artist for young children, and kids may be intrigued by the unusual figures and inherent drama. But it is more likely that older readers may develop an artistic curiosity and appreciation for this woman’s provocative work. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-590-20320-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

WILD, WILD WOLVES

At ``Step 2'' in the useful ``Step into Reading'' series: an admirably clear, well-balanced presentation that centers on wolves' habits and pack structure. Milton also addresses their endangered status, as well as their place in fantasy, folklore, and the popular imagination. Attractive realistic watercolors on almost every page. Top-notch: concise, but remarkably extensive in its coverage. A real bargain. (Nonfiction/Easy reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-91052-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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