Monday, July 2, 2012

FRIDA by Jonah Winter (2nd Review)

Winter, Jonah. Frida. Illustrated by Ana Juan. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002 ISBN 0-439-37308-5. $16.95

See another review of Frida on this site here.

This book chronicles the life of famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and gives the reader a lovely overview of Frida’s daily adventures within her own imagination. Through its vivid imagery and lovely illustration, this book promotes the exploration of students' own imaginations and can promote lively descriptions of the details found within the book's imagery and language. I strongly recommend this book for a teacher who has an appreciation of cultural differences in language and who wishes to artistically inspire her students.

The story recalls the tragic events in Frida’s life, from the separation of her parents to her battle with polio and her years confined to a bed because of it. This story takes place in Mexico City, and the tone of the story relays a beautiful feeling of hope and wonder. This may be difficult for young children to grasp, but I feel could be useful in conversations discussing empathy and compassion. This book is most likely best suited for a read aloud, though, because the text on some pages is embedded within the imagery and can be difficult for students to read on their own. The actual letters of the text are also artistically stylized, which could present difficulty for younger readers.

There are a number of ways one could use this book in the classroom to fuel students' creative writing. Students could do a sensory writing activity while focusing on just one the pages and writing short phrases or ideas each relating to the five senses. Students could also practice persuasive academic language by becoming artistic critics of the illustrations and learning to support their ideas using facts and opinions. Students could also write journal responses on how they speculate Frida could be feeling at any given moment in the story. There are myriad ways students could respond to this text, but all of them come from the wonderful introduction provided by this book to an artist known around the world: Frida Kahlo.

Reviewed by Jazmin Newman

This review is part of the Special Section: Books in Spanish, featuring a collaboration with Policy and Language Studies students at San Diego State University. Read more about it here.

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