Viva Frida
by Morales, Yuyi; O'Morales, Yuyi (PHT)

Bilingual text, accompanied by colorful photographs, explores the famous artist's life, and illuminates the laughter, love, and tragedy that influenced her work.

Yuyi Morales is an author, artist, and puppet maker and was the host of her own Spanish-language radio program for children. She has won numerous awards, including the Jane Addams Award, three Pura Belpre Medals and three Pura Belpre Honors. She divides her time between the San Francisco area and Veracruz, Mexico, where she was born.

Morales artistically distills the essence of the remarkable Frida Kahlo in this esoteric, multigenre picture book. Morales layers English and Spanish words-never more than four to a page-to depict a Frida who is curious, playful, wise, and inspired. Rather than tell a story, the text captures fragments of Frida's life, like snapshots with bilingual captions. Readers who know about this artist will appreciate that she is so much more than the product of the bus accident that robbed her of her health, and readers who do not know about her will be intrigued to learn more. The heartfelt yet succinct biography at the end provides that information in both languages. The three-dimensional quality of the illustrations lends realism, even though they are quite surreal, and the photography always captures the sparkle in Frida's eyes and the lights at any fiesta. While the picture-book format and bright photographed tableaux will appeal to a younger audience, it's slightly older readers who will be best suited to appreciate the deceptively simple text and references to Kahlo's art. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

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) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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