Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos gives young readers an introduction to the artist’s life and work through the lens of her pets. This is an especially great choice since Kahlo’s animals so often appear in her art. The book opens in a way that will sway any animal lover: “This is the story of a little girl named Frido who grew up to be one of the most famous painters of all time. Frida was special.
“This is also the story of two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn. They were Frida’s pets, and they were special too.”
The text draws connections between Kahlo’s characteristics and her pets’ characteristics: “Like a cat, Frida was playful.” It would be fun to read this book next to Quick as a Cricket in a unit about similes. The books feel very different in tone, but they use the same literary techniques.
This would also be a great book to pair with Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida. The dream-like state of Viva Frida is very different from the story-telling here, but the combination of the two books would be a great introduction to an important artist.
John Parra’s illustrations use images and ideas from Kahlo’s paintings but are their own wonderful things. I especially loved the loving way he included details in the art–roller skates under the bed, a paleta man pushing a cart in the background at a city park, books stacked on the floor behind Kahlo’s wheelchair. Every page is a pleasure to explore.
Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra. North South Books: 2017.