Frida

by Jonah Winter, Illustrated By Ana Juan


Arthur A. Levine Books
February 2002


Non-Fiction
Ages 6 – 9 . Grades 1 – 4

Library of Congress: 00051421


Lexile measure: AD520L

DRA: 24

Guided Reading: M

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When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. When polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression - and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art. Now Jonah Winter and Ana Juan have drawn on both the art and the life to create a playful, insightful tribute to one of the twentieth century's most influential artists. Viva Frida!
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Ana Juan

Ana Juan illustrated Frida, Jonah Winter's picture book biography of Frida Kahlo, which was an ALA Notable Book and received an Américas Honor Award. She also received the Ezra Jack Keats award for The Night Eater, her first book as author-illustrator. She lives in Madrid, Spain.
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Jonah Winter

Jonah Winter has written many exciting picture book biographies for children, with subjects that include Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Barack Obama, and Dizzy Gillespie. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

SELECT REVIEWS:

  • Praise for DIEGO (1991):

    "An accessible picture book about the life and work of Diego Rivera sounds like an oxymoron, but Winter . . . succeed[s] beyond belief. . . . The last pictures show him as a young man, perched on his scaffolding, brushes in hand, beckoning viewers on with his ardent glance. Readers will wish they could follow."
    -- School Library Journal
    "An excellent beginning biography."
    -- Kirkus

    * One of The Ruminator Review's 100 Best Children's Books of the Twentieth Century

    * A Reading Rainbow Review book

    * A 1991 Parents' Choice Award Honor winner

    Praise for FAIR BALL! (1997):

    Certain to be a hit with kids who take baseball history seriously, Winter's . . . handsome volume devotes a spread each to 14 stars of the Negro Leagues. Balancing stats with engaging trivia and anecdotes, the author will open readers' eyes to the injustices of segregated baseball. . . . This picture book [will] help set some records straight.
    -- Publishers Weekly

    A good, highly accessible introduction to a group of athletes who deserve to be as well known as their white counterparts.
    -- School Library Journal

    Praise for FRIDA
    Winter, who brought the Mexican muralist vividly to life in Diego, focuses on Diego Rivera's bride, Frida Kahlo--an accomplished artist in her own right--in this striking picture book-biography. With a spare narrative more akin to poetry than prose, the author touches on important events in his subject's childhood--Frida's loneliness and the polio that kept her bedridden for months, as well as a bus accident, at age 18, that nearly killed h
    er. He then shows how, each time, art helped her to transcend her injuries ("She turns her pain into something beautiful") and to unleash her magically surreal vision of the world in paintings ("In museums, people still look at them and weep and sigh and smile"). Juan, a Spanish fine artist and New Yorker cover artist making her children's book debut, creates artwork bursting with saturated color and infused with Mexican folk art motifs that also influenced Frida's own style. Floating figures, fantastical creatures and celestial bodies with human features cavort across the pages. Ana transforms Frida herself from a solemn, moon-faced child with uncompromising eyebrows (her well-known physical trait) to a woman whose gaunt features hint at both strength and inner struggle. One particularly breathtaking image shows the artist floating against a night sky, eyes closed and arms crossed on her chest in a death pose, held in the grip of a tree's thorny, gnarled branches ("Her body will hurt, always"). An outstanding introduction to an influential artist.
    --Publishers Weekly, Dec. 10th 2001, starred review

    A picture-homage to the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose indomitable spirit has become a reverend 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 infa

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