Portrait of an Artist: Vincent van Gogh; Portrait of an Artist: Frida Kahlo

Quarto/Wide Eyed Editions. Portrait of an Artist. Sept. 2019. 32p. ISBN 9781786036469; ISBN 9781786036421.
PreS-Gr 2–Tailoring her texts to very young readers, Brownridge glosses over Frida Kahlo’s physical and marital difficulties and the seriousness of Vincent van Gogh’s mental illness and suicide. “Vincent decided that he had had enough of being unwell.... When he died, he could hear the gently rustling corn that had given him so much joy and inspiration.” Placing photos of the artworks along with the text on each spread allows the illustrators to be inspired by the style without having to copy it and gives readers a solid idea of the artists’ work. These works don’t always appear chronologically. The first Kahlo painting shown is What the Water Gave Me (1938), implying it was done early in life rather than well into her career. The back matter offers more information about each image; there are picture credits but no sources, even for direct quotes. Carron’s playful, colored pencil illustrations lighten van Gogh’s story further. Dieckmann’s images, “created with digital and traditional media,” capture the surreal effect of many of Kahlo’s paintings. Both Carron and Dieckmann have done justice to the artists.
VERDICT These gently told narratives are shallow but effective for the audience.

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