Viva Frida

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Viva Frida Book Poster Image
Exuberant portrayal of artist's passion for art.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Introduces kids to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and shows how an artist gets inspiration. Presents words in English and Spanish. An author's note tells a little about the life of Frida Kahlo and how she became an artist and mentions her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.  

Positive Messages

Follow your heart, your dreams, and your inspiration. To be an artist, observe the world around you and let your feelings guide you. To create is to live. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frida observes her world and gets inspiration for her art. Both her mind and her emotions are engaged ("I feel"). She appears to have a loving relationship with her husband. The author's note at the back explains that she overcame childhood polio and a terrible bus crash at 18 that led her to take up painting. 

Violence & Scariness

Author's note mentions Frida contracting polio at age 6, which left her with a withered right leg for the rest of her life. It also mentions that she suffered a bus crash at 18 and "had to endure painful medical procedures for the rest of her life." But "while she was lying in a hospital bed recovering, she began to paint." 

Language

What parents need to know

Families need to know that 2015 Caldecott Honor winner Viva Frida by award-winning author-illustrator Yuyi Morales celebrates artist Frida Kahlo. It does not offer a biographical sketch but instead uses very few (bilingual) words -- often only one per two-page spread -- to zero in on her artistic impulse. She learns to "search," "see," "play," and "dream" and realizes that "I feel / And understand ... / that I love / And create / And so... / I live!" 

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What's the story?

In 3-D scenes featuring a doll-like figure, fuzzy animal figures, and real objects as well as fanciful 2-D collages, a young woman searches, observes, plays, and realizes that she loves to create and make art of what she sees around her and in her dreams. It makes her feel alive. An author's note gives some background on the artist Frida Kahlo and her husband, muralist Diego Rivera (who's pictured painting and also giving her a kiss on the cheek), as well as a reflection on how author Morales became interested in Kahlo. 

Is it any good?

VIVA FRIDA is a captivating book with super-spare text -- sometimes only one word, presented in both English and Spanish -- that builds to a celebration of the artist's creative urge. Kids will enjoy the dream-like scenes and be swept up in Frida's love for art. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about art. Do you like to draw or paint? What's fun about it? 

  • Do you enjoy reading about art in different cultures? What colors are often used in Mexican art? 

  • Would you like to have a pet monkey like Frida did? 

Book details

Themes & Topics

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