Little Frida by Anthony Browne
Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406381221. Hardcover, 32 pages.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Themes: Frida Kahlo, Disability. Resilience, Artists, Belonging, Imagination. Fans of Anthony Browne's wonderful books and fans of the artist Frida Kahlo will welcome this gorgeous picture that pays tribute to the artist's young life. When she was six Frida Kahlo contracted polio and from then on walked with a limp. She was bullied at school and felt lonely and isolated until she went on a journey and met an imaginary friend who could dance beautifully. This figure would feature in her art in her later life.
Browne has used Kahlo's diary entries describing the time she met her imaginary friend beneath a dairy to write a poignant story about Frida's early life. His illustrations, done in the style of Kahlo, are very evocative and tell a touching tale about a young girl's disability and quest for friendship. Browne has won The Kate Greenaway Medal twice and Little Frida could well be another winner of this prestigious award. His illustrations, done in the bright colours that characterised Kahlo's work, are beautiful and will strike a chord in the minds of young and adult readers as they follow Kahlo's flights of fancy when she dons a pair of wings that she has been given for her birthday. The resilience that Kahlo had is inspiring and the richness of her imagination comes across as an important factor in her journey to becoming a world famous artist.
Children are fascinated by the artwork of Kahlo: bookstores keep popular bookmark souvenirs and mugs depicting her self-portraits, so this book will resonate with readers who want to learn more about her life and art. There is biographical information at the back of the book, and a picture of The two Fridas (1939), showing her imaginary friend, gives the reader an insight into her paintings.
This exquisitely produced book with its moving story and superb illustrations will be one that readers will want to keep and return to again and again.