MAY 26:

  • Happy birthday Ann Schlee (Ask Me No Questions), Sheila Greenwald (Rosy Cole series), Adrienne Kennaway (Greedy Zebra), Lisbeth Zwerger (Gift of the Magi), Jennifer Roy (Mindblind) and twin sister Julia DeVillers (Liberty Porter, First Daughter), and Raina Telgemeir (Smile).
  • Jazz musician Miles Davis (1926-1991) was born on this day. Read Lookin’ for Bird in the Big City by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Marek Los.
  • Best birthday wishes to astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space. Read Mission: Planet Earth by Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy. And by the way, it’s Sally Ride Day!

May has been designated both Personal History Month and Latino Book Month, and our book of the day, Yuyi Morales’s Viva Frida, could be used effectively for either celebration. In this passionate celebration of Frida Kahlo for very young readers, ages 2-8, Morales captures the spirit of an artist who has been her inspiration from childhood.

Growing up in Mexico, Morales viewed Frida Kahlo with pride and wanted to know more about this singular artist who filled her paintings with both symbols of Mexican art but also intensely personal images of herself, her husband Diego Rivera, and her pet monkey and dog. Morales draws on these images to capture the feeling of Frida Kahlo’s art for young readers.

In a text in both Spanish and English, the book begins with the words, “I am” and ends with “I live!” For the rest of the text, short declarative first-person sentences – “I see”, “I play” – accompany the artwork showing Frida dancing and twirling around the book. The artist seems so vibrantly alive that readers feel they can touch her. In fact, the art for the book was created with stop-motion puppets that look as if they are ready to leap out of the pages into another dimension.

Accompanying this simple text are glorious double-page spreads in fully saturated color that show the images, animals, and people in the life of Frida Kahlo. Kahlo’s monkey, dog, husband, and spectacular costumes entice the reader, providing a visual roadmap of Kahlo’s actual art. She is shown with her puppets, her amazing unibrow, and even with the deer that features in Kahlo’s paintings. Without writing a biography of Kahlo’s life, the artist has provided a visual one.

Winner of the Pura Belpre Award for picture books and a Caldecott Honor Award, Viva Frida excels in bookmaking and art. From the vibrant flower endpapers until the final author’s note (both in English and Spanish) every page of the book provides a visual feast for the eyes. In the end, Morales has lovingly created a book that will bring the next generation of artists and young readers to her own childhood heroine. Viva Yuyi Morales!

Here’s a page from Viva Frida:

Viva Frida image




Originally posted May 26, 2015. Updated for .

Tags: Art, Award Winning, Caldecott, Latino, Multicultural, Women
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Viva Frida


Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.