Who Was Her Own Work of Art?: Frida Kahlo: An Official Who HQ Graphic Novel

Penguin Workshop. (Who HQ Graphic Novels). Feb. 2024. 64p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780593384664.
Gr 6 Up–No modern Mexican painter is more widely known than Frida Kahlo. Born at the dawn of the 20th century, Kahlo, who is of German and Mexican descent, experienced a life-changing accident in her late teens that would affect most of her adult life and would intrinsically linked to her artwork. Part of the popular “Who Was?” series, this graphic novel will engage late elementary school readers with excellently structured dialogue among Kahlo and fictional secondary characters and historical figures, such as the photographer Nickolas Muray, who founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York; American manufacturer and businessman Conger Goodyear; and painter Georgia O’Keeffe. The historical narrative begins with biographical information, and then advances to center around Kahlo’s first solo exhibition in 1938 in New York and the 1939 exhibition in Paris. Although this book also offers biographical information about Diego Rivera and a definition of surrealism, Kahlo’s depiction as an independent thinker and her desire for her art to be acknowledged without ties to her famous husband will inspire readers. The illustrations are similarly set in sequential boxes as vignettes, detailing elements of the narrative and strong expressions from Kahlo’s temperament that illustrator Fortson captures insightfully. The back matter contains a Kahlo-thematic bibliography listing books for young readers as well as a time line of her life.
VERDICT An absorbing read with a well-crafted narrative and eloquent art.

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