FRIDA KAHLO

THE ARTIST WHO PAINTED HERSELF

The Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is a surprisingly popular subject for young people. This engaging essay is written as if it were a school report by a girl named Frieda and illustrated not only with reproductions of Kahlo’s own paintings but with scenes from her life imagined by the inimitable dePaola. He uses borders and backgrounds in Kahlo’s colors to intensify the text to good effect. Kahlo’s poor health, her self-absorption, her marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera are all reported as a child might actually research them, and the student’s voice is sharp and clear. Frith’s straightforward presentation of Kahlo’s passionate and unusual way of seeing the whole world in her self-portraits is commendable. If only some sort of bibliography or notes were included to aid Frieda’s fellow researchers. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-448-42677-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY

This fervent but sketchy tribute to the world’s best known living athlete gives young readers stylized, spray-painted views of a comic book–style superhero with hugely exaggerated muscles and, generally, an open mouth, paired to eye-glazing captions. “As a boy, he struggled to make his way in the segregated world of the PRE-CIVIL RIGHTS SOUTH.” Shange makes a case for dubbing Ali a “hero for all time,” but aside from a later quote of the subtitle, she mentions his way with rhyme only as a boy, and ends her account of his boxing career with 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle,” seven years before his last fight. The appended chronology addresses that lack, but skips from 1981 to 1996, and refers to his Parkinson’s Disease without explaining what it is—or its probable cause. Next to the strong prose and evocative art of Walter Dean Myers’s Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins (2000), or the grandeur of Doreen Rappaport’s Martin’s Big Words, illustrated by Brian Collier (2001), this portrait of a widely admired African-American comes off as more strident than inspirational. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7868-0554-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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