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Page history last edited by Alexis Jackson 10 years, 5 months ago






|Plot Summary|

If one is looking for a book that both teaches children and adults about a historical figure as well as the difficulty of overcoming adversity, this book is definitely a marvelous choice!


     Frida, is a wonderful picture book written by Jonah Winter who has written other picture books about famous people of color such as Mohammad Ali, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frida’s husband Diego Rivera,and illustrated by Ana Juan. This extremely informative biography chronicles the life of the late artist, Frida Kahlo, in a way that both children and adults alike will enjoy for countless reads. This story begins during Frida's childhood. Although Frida has multiple siblings, she often feels very lonely and isolated. After learning some basic artistic elements from her father, she often turns to art and her imaginary friend, Frida, for entertainment. After being confined to the bed from being stricken with Polio, she delves even deeper into her passion for art. Letting her imagination take her mind off of her pain, Frida returns to school where is allowed to perfect the mastery of her artistic technique. Frida life is by no means one free of tragedy and pain. One day when leaving school, Frida is in a horrible accident involving her school bus and a train. After this Frida in almost constant pain. This physical pain follows her through her adult life as well. However, it is here that Frida portrays her inner strength. Instead of feeling defeated and giving up on art, she uses her situation to draw inspiration for her artistic passion. From this pain came some of her most famous paintings. Instead of physically crying she put it onto a canvas and instead drew pictures of herself crying and scenes of angels. Frida’s work is undisputedly a part of Mexican culture now.  




|Textual Elements|



The plot of this story, as summarized above, leaves the readers feeling fulfilled and curious to know more about the life and work of Frida Kahlo. The plot is written in a way that is simple enough for young readers to comprehend, but complex enough to keep all readers, even adults, entertained, engaged, and informed. 



This story takes place in Coyoacan, Mexico. The fact that this is explicitly stated definitely aids in the effectiveness of the story. The previous statement was made because explicitly stating it aids in the cultural influence that this picture book has by letting the readers know in the beginning that the story may have a different culture then the one they are familiar with and gives them something to look forward to.



One interesting thing about this book is that there is no dialogue. This certainly makes the readers consider the purpose of the other characters in the story, which adds more substance to the book. Frida is clearly the main character in the story but there are certainly some mentionable minor characters. Frida’s mother and father are both acknowledged in this book. Her mother for being to busy to give her any special attention, and her father for being an artist himself and giving her the initial art lessons which allowed her talents to flourish. Another character that was mentioned was her imaginary friend, Frida. Her character served to demonstrate Frida’s vivid imagination, a characteristic that is present in much of her work. Perhaps the most mentionable minor characters are the folk art characters present in most the pages of this story. Not only do they further help convey the cultural aspect of this story, but also they convey the emotion of each page with their behaviors that certainly draw the reader’s eye.


|Point of view|  

Because this is a biography, it is told solely from the perspective of the author.  His voice was the only one used through text, but the voices of the other characters could in a way be heard through the illustrations. Although there is no dialogue from them, the reader is still able to decipher their moods and emotions through out the story.



Like all good books, Frida, leaves the readers with messages through themes. One theme of Frida was inner strength. Through all of Frida’s ailments and tragedies, Frida stayed strong and looked within herself and her art to persevere over all of the negative situations in her life. Following one’s passion is another theme throughout this book. From childhood on you can see Frida’s passion for art and despite her obvious setbacks. This sends the message to readers to do what they love despite the circumstances that present themselves. 


|Font choice|


The font choice was exceptional for this book. Set in GF Hegemonic, the font was almost as artistic as the illustration. The curves and bends of the letters are indeed unique in comparison to either the standard basic font or the choppy juvenile font meant to look hand drawn. The font works well composition wise.




|Artistic Elements|  

Frida is a picture book and because of this the text is not the only thing that influences the interpretation of this story. 



The media used in this text to create the wonderful illustrations seen in this book are acrylics, wax, and paper.


|Style of Art| 

The style of art in this story certainly has an influence on the interpretation of the material. The illustrator, Ana Juan, mentions that she draws a lot of inspiration from Frida Kahlo, which immediately gives the reader another connection to Frida Kahlo. It also aids further into the cultural piece. It is really easy to see the Mexican influence in the art of this story. The style of art used in this story is surrealism. It is surrealism because it features everyday items in odd ways.



The composition of the art is extremely effective. The illustrations and text work well with each other. They way that they are set up on the page allow the reader to take in all of it without becoming overwhelmed. There is certainly a lot happening on each page but it works well within this story. 


|Placement on page of Illustrations| 

The illustrations on all the pages except the first and last pages are done in full bleed. This aids in the understanding of the story because it allows the reader to almost become absorbed in the text because there is so much to take in.


|Line, shape, texture, color, and design| 

The use of colors in this story was extraordinary. They certainly helped to set the tone of each page. From the very beginning all the way until the end of the story, rich, bold colors were used in the illustrations. Bright yellows, deep reds, and earthy browns were some of the colors that were used the most throughout this story. This definitely supported the story by emphasizing the text. 


|Use of Negative Space|



Negative space certainly was not employed often within this story. On most pages, in fact every page except the first and last, have no negative space. Color is seen everywhere and objects are placed closely together.




|Placement on page of Text| 

The placement of text in the story was done very strategically. It enhances the artwork instead of distracting it. Often the text is seen placed in the story some how. One example of this is an illustration where Frida is depicted holding a palette and paintbrush. However, instead of paint being on the pallet, the words were. There are many other examples of things such as this in the story.




|Analysis and Critique| 


     The literary element of this picture book was definitely effective. The author’s main purpose was to expose readers to the life and work of famed artist Frida Kahlo and he certainly was successful in this. Not only do the readers gain the opportunity to learn about a historical figure, but also they are allowed the chance to empathize with her as well as celebrate her accomplishments with her through the text. Jonah Winter writes in words that are easy enough for beginning reader with some experience with reading but eloquent enough for mature readers to gain something from the text as well.  

     The artistic element of this story was effective as well. In a picture book, illustrations should aid in conveying the message of the text. This is certainly the case for Frida. Ana Juan did an excellent job in creating illustrations that support the text instead of distracting from it. It goes along with the moods and messages of the story. One example of this is when the text tells of Frida being lonely as a child neutral tones as well as deep blues were employed for this page. She is also seen sitting by herself while her sisters are playing together and an angry sun can be observed (Winter, 3). 

     Because this is a biography, it is told solely from the perspective of the author.  His voice was the only one used through text, but the voices of the other characters could in a way be heard through the illustrations. Although there is no dialogue from them, the reader is still able to decipher their moods and emotions through out the story.

      This piece certainly has some social relevancy. It does not only chronicle her life, but it also highlights real world issues that people deal with everyday. Examples of the previous statement are feelings of loneliness and isolation, pain, perseverance, and achievement. Because they are so in every day life, the topics discussed are relevant to the reader’s lives in some ways even if they are being used in an unfamiliar context. 

     As previously mentioned, Jonah Winter definitely had some points that he was trying to get across. One of these was inner strength. I think one of the primary overt messages throughout this book was that anyone could do anything they put their mind to as long as they were strong enough to ensure that their dreams became a reality. Another explicit message portrayed in this story was that life wont always be easy. It was very effective for the author to chronicle the hard times in her life instead of speaking solely on Frida’s success. One of the implicit messages is that women are strong, which is contrary to the implicit messages seen in many other books. This books has a female hero in it who does not depend on a male for her success which sends the signal that a woman can be just as successful at something, if not more, than a man.

     Overall, this book is genuinely a good read. I would recommend it to anyone! 





|Picture Book Citation|  

Winter, Jonah. Frida. Illus. Juan, Ana. NY, New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2002. 


|Word Count|

1662 without headings


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