Little Frida: A Story of Frida Kahlo

Publisher: Walker Books

Review

Although long celebrated, Frida Kahlo has seen a surge of popularity in the last few years (it's even been called "Fridamania").

The masterstroke of this picture book, by former Children's Laureate Anthony Browne, is to focus on the artist's childhood and see the little girl behind the icon.

Anthony Browne takes us back to a significant trauma in Frida Kahlo's early life: getting polio at 6 years old, which leaves her with a limp and frail leg. The other children tease her, cruelly: 'I was different and being different made me an outsider.' But Frida soon discovers a secret power she didn't even know she had. With just her mind, she can create other worlds, imaginary friends, and even fly.

This dreamy story reveals more – and rewards more – the longer you look at the illustrations. You feel like you have stepped into one of Frida Kahlo's own paintings. Everywhere, there are surreal little touches (a cactus with arms, a plane made of fruit); everything infused with a sunburnt, stone-baked palette.

Not only will any grown-up Frida Kahlo fans love this book, but plenty of children will relate to its themes of bullying and belonging, imagination and hope.

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