VIVA FRIDA by Yuyi Morales


by ; illustrated by ; photographed by
Age Range: 3 - 6
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This luminescent homage to Frida Kahlo doesn’t hew to her artwork’s mood but entrances on its own merit.

Adults will recognize Kahlo’s signature eyebrows, but readers of all ages will be caught immediately by the bewitchingly bright colors and detailed photographs. Morales makes her figures from steel, polymer clay and wool, and the illustrations come together with acrylic paint, digital manipulation and O’Meara’s dramatically angled photographs of the scenes. Kahlo has the thin, posable arms and stiff legs of a fashion doll, with earrings, a necklace and flowered dresses. Her vibe is contented curiosity as she and her monkey explore a box and find a skeleton marionette. A second thread shows Kahlo as two-dimensional (possibly doll-Kahlo’s dream?), rescuing a wounded deer; doll-Kahlo then includes the deer in a self-portrait. Vivid textures and high-saturation colors enthrall. However, the text (in English and Spanish) is platitudinous and vague: “I realize… / that… / I feel / And I understand… / that I love / And create / And so… / I live!” It would be impossible (and undesirable) to translate the violence, pain and anger of Kahlo’s work for an audience this young; these illustrations, while including some of her visual motifs, don’t even try. The final spread is downright festive. Morales’ author’s note (also in English and Spanish) provides a brief biographical sketch that makes clear the artist’s profound effect on her.

Out of context, visually radiant; as an introduction to Kahlo herself, almost irrelevant. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59643-603-9
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


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