Archive | April, 2016

Explore the Surreal Art and Intriguing Life of Frida Kahlo in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Plays, Comics, Picture Books, and Film

22 Apr

I am very excited that on Saturday May 7 Barbara Freiberg will be coming to do a program at the Hoboken Public Library for our library patrons ages 13 and up about one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo.  Freiberg will be talking about Kahlo’s interesting life and teaching students to create their own still life drawings based on Kahlo’s style.  Space is limited for the class, but the library has a variety of books, movies, and more that you can check out even if you aren’t able to participate.  Plus you can also join us for a series of Wednesday morning art classes with Liz Cohen.  See our Eventbrite page for more details and to RSVP.


I still remember how excited I was going to see the 2003 film, Frida, directed by Julie Taymor in the theater.  I was captivated by Salma Hayek’s passionate performance as the legendary artist throughout her life.  Check it out at HPL and other BCCLS libraries.

The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo


Image via Popscreen

This documentary directed by Amy Stechler celebrates Kahlo as not only a great artist, but also a strong woman who overcame many obstacles in her personal life and as a Latina.  The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo is narrated by actress Rita Moreno. Mexican-American singer Lila Downs provides the voice of Kahlo.  It includes interviews with Kahlo’s students as part of its special features. Check it out from HPL and other BCCLS libraries.

Frida Kahlo’s Garden, Edited by Adriana Zavala, Mia D’Avanza, and Joanna L. Groarke

If like me, you missed seeing the New York Botanic Garden’s Frida Kahlo exhibit last fall, which included a display of Kahlo paintings and recreated her famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, in Mexico City, you can still visit in book form with Frida Kahlo’s Garden, which looks at how plants and nature inspired Kahlo through a series of essay, photographs, and illustrations.  Check it out from HPL and other BCCLS libraries.

Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo, by Carole Maso

For a highly original look at Kahlo’s life check out Carole Maso’s prose poem Beauty is Convulsive.  Maso pays particular attention to how Kahlo’s disabilities first from polio as a child and then a tragic bus accident caused her physical pain which she was able to channel into transcendent art.  Check it out from HPL and other BCCLS libraries.

Frida, by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Ana Juan

Frida, a colorful picture book, will charm you and your children.  Winter gives a biographical account of Kahlo’s life illustrated by Juan in a style and with symbols capturing Kahlo’s spirit.  Your own little artist will be inspired.  Check it out from HPL and other BCCLS libraries.

Viva Frida!, by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales’s uses only simple text in Spanish and English, but the lively photographs using dolls and cutouts will ignite your child’s imagination in the picture book, Viva Frida!  Available in print from HPL and on Hoopla as a video picture book.
Frida & Diego: Art, Love, Life, by Catherine Reef

It is impossible to discuss Frida Kahlo without mentioning Diego Rivera, other than art, the greatest love of her life.  Rivera was also a great artist and was well known for his murals, which captured the lives of the average working class Mexican.  Teens will enjoy this biography that looks at both great artist and their passionate and turbulent romance.  It is recommended by School Library Journal for grades 7 and up.  It is available in in the HPL YA department.

Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas, 24 Activities

If you are a homeschooler or simply looking for fun artistic learning activities for your child on a rainy day, check out this Hoopla title that looks at the life and art of Kahlo and Rivera and gives idea for activities like painting self-portraits in Kahlo’s style, making a Day of the Dead ofrenda, and crafting an Olmec head carving.  It will have your kids thinking about art in a new way.

Milestones of Art: Frida Kahlo: Viva Mexico, by Willi Bloess

You can check out a graphic novel adaptation of the life of Kahlo written and illustrated by Willi Bloess on Hoopla.  If you enjoy his work about Frida Kahlo, you can also check out his comic adaptations of other great artists including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol.

La Casa Azul: Inspired by the Writing of Frida Kahlo, by Sophie Faucher, translated by Neil Bartlett

Quebeçois playwright Sophie Faucher not only wrote La Casa Azul, but also played the role of Frida in the early 2000’s.  You can read Faucher’s dramatic interpretation of Kahlo’s life using some of Kahlo’s own thoughts from her diaries and letters on Hoopla.

Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, by Whitney Chadwick

Although there are more recent works on Surrealism, this continues to be my favorite work about the genre.  It will be of interest for not only its section on Frida Kahlo, but also if you would like to learn about other female surrealist artists who were her contemporaries; two of my other favorites are Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini.  Available from BCCLS libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Great Reads from the Land Down Under: Kim Wilkins, Kerry Greenwood, and Graeme Base

6 Apr

One of my favorite trips I have ever taken was to Australia where I was able to see the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (Ayers Rock).  But for all the wonders down under, the best part of Australia was all the kind and friendly people I encountered.  I’ve just started reading the quirky period comedy The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish, about the misadventures of a young anthropologist by Australian author, Tim Flannery.  My enjoyment of the work got me thinking about Australia and some of my other favorite Australian authors and their works.  I hope you’ll check out some of their books and if you are thinking of taking your own trip there, you can borrow Frommer’s Easyguide to Australia from HPL and start planning your own adventure.

Kim Wilkins

I first fell in love with Kim Wilkins’s Europa Suite, a set of three books which although each with unique plots and characters are connected by their basis in the folklore of different parts of Northern Europe.  You can borrow from BCCLS libraries the third work of this “trilogy,” The Veil of Gold where creatures from Russian myth and legend transform the lives of three modern individuals.  The Europa Suite would be best categorized as romantic urban fantasy and would appeal to fans of mythpunk like Catherynne M. Valente.

Wilkins’s earlier work such as her first novel The Infernal tend more towards supernatural thriller and horror in the vein of Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite.  Unfortunately many of her early works have not yet been published in the US.  If you like your work more grounded in reality you may want to check out some of her most recent fiction works which are written under the pen name Kimberly Freeman including Evergreen Falls which was inspired by her own grandmother’s life.  What runs through all of her writing is despite often being set in our modern world there is a fascination and some type of connection with different time periods such as the 1920s in Evergreen Falls.  Wilkins also has written a children’s series, The Sunken Kingdom (available from BCCLS libraries).

Kerry Greenwood

Kerry Greenwood is probably my favorite mystery writer.  Rosary wrote about her Phryne Fisher series in an early blog post and I also mentioned the excellent TV adaptation of that series.  Both the Phryne Fisher book series and the first three seasons of the television series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are available from the Hoboken Public Library.  But besides Phryne you should also check out Greenwood’s terrific six book Corinna Chapman Mysteries which star a zaftig baker who lives and works in a quirky apartment building with her charming feline companion.  Unlike the Phryne Fisher series, the Corinna Chapman series is set in modern times, but like Phryne there are a lot of delightful characters in Corinna’s life.  You will want to eat this series up! Greenwood’s Delphic Woman trilogy was also recently published in the United States for the first time (they are actually some of her older works written back in the 90s) which are based on the stories of women from Ancient Myths including Cassandra, Medea, and Electra.

Graeme Base

Graeme Base is one of my favorite picture book authors and illustrators.  My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch will introduce you and the little explorer in your life to the native wildlife of his adopted homeland (he moved from England to Australia as a child).  My top pick of his would be The Eleventh Hour, a mystery book for the younger set about an elephant’s birthday feast that disappears before the assorted animal guests can enjoy it.  The gorgeous bright detailed illustrations, clever rhymes, and fun puzzle of who-dun-it will have your little ones enthralled.  If your kids have fun looking for the hidden images in the book they can also check out other of Base’s works such as The Legend of a Golden Snail, The Last King of Angkor Wat, and Enigma: A Magical Mystery.  Tykes learning their ABC’s will find Animalia to be one of the most beautiful alphabet books to enjoy and they’ll giggle at the tongue twisting alliteration.  BCCLS libraries also have the TV adaptation of Animalia available.  For older children there is Base’s first novel, TruckDogs, about truck/dog hybrids living in an outback like setting.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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