Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales

Genre: Biographical
Grade Level: Pre-K – 2
Interest Level: Pre-K – 4
Themes: Frida Kahlo, creativity, art, imagination, Mexican culture

Yuyi Morales has created another wonderfully, authentic text for your classroom library. This Pura Belpre’ winner, Viva Frida, is a peek into Morales’ perception of Frida Kahlo’s creative process. The text is minimal, but provocative, and Morales leads the reader on a journey through  the artistic imagination of Frida Kahlo.

The artwork creates the vitality of the book, that imitates the vitality of Kahlos’ life and art. Every page is vibrant and beautiful. The combination of Tim O’Meara’s stop-motion puppet photography,  and Morales’ illustrations bring Kahlo’s passion and creativity to life.  Each page contains cultural elements of Kahlo’s life in Mexico, from the traditional Tehuana clothing and indigenous jewelry Kahlo was known for, to the vibrant Casa Azul where she lived. The illustrations also depict Kahlo’s love of nature,  her pets, and of her fellow artist/husband, Diego Rivera.

The text has many instructional possibilities. Teaching verbs works with the spare text, that is both in English and Spanish, “Soy/I am…busca/I search…Veo/I see”.  In addition, a study of the creative process as Morales interprets it, might be covered with the students as a critical discussion and an art lesson.  A lesson also awaits in  the extended metaphor of imagination and  creativity, as freedom. The images and text suggest that Kahlo was freed from her frail and broken body through her art. This is represented in both the pictures and the strong verbs throughout the text.  Art was her freedom, as it is for many students.  For older students, Morales includes a brief author’s note to explain her connection to Frida Kahlo's life and work. This works well for the Common Core’s informational text requirements.

Viva Frida is a beautiful book. Go out and get it!

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