Family Book Club: Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos

Brown, Monica - Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos

Title: Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra (you can find an online read-along version here, but be sure to buy books and support authors if you can!)

Reading level: picture book

Synopsis: Before Frida Kahlo was a famous artist, she was a little girl who lived in La Casa Azul with many pets. Through her life, she had two spider monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn, and each of them inspired her art. Some of them even show up in her self portraits! When Frida was six, she was very sick and bedridden for many months, and in that time, she began to express herself through art. When she was eighteen, she was in a terrible accident and again had to stay in bed for a long time. This time, her mom brought her painting supplies, and Frida began to paint in earnest. She was inspired by her Aztec heritage, using indigenous Mexican symbolism and styling, and by the animals who were so near and dear to her heart. To this day, at the Museo Frida Kahlo (Frida Kahlo Museum) that's in La Casa Azul, you can see the pyramid Frida's husband, Diego Rivera, built for all of her animalitos. 

Categories: multicultural, biography, creativity


  1. Much of Frida's early interest in art was influenced by her family, especially her photographer dad. What skills do your family members have that you're interested in learning too?
  2. Frida was inspired by the world around her—notably, her pets. Who or what do you see and interact with daily that inspires you to be creative? What's your favorite way to express that creativity?
  3. Frida saw pieces of herself in all of her animals. What animals are you similar to? 
  4. Diego Rivera, Frida's husband, loved her very much and showed that love by building a pyramid in the courtyard of La Casa Azul. What are ways your friends and family have shown they love you? How can you show them you love them back?
  5. Frida Kahlo is one of many famous artists who have books written about them. Can you think of any others? Have you learned about other artists in school, at a museum, on TV and in books, or from your friends and family?

Activity: Frida painted herself with the animals she loved so much. Can you do the same? Gather together some paper, paint, and brushes, and think of an animal you love dearly—a pet, an animal you've seen at the zoo, a wild animal who you see outside, or a friend or family member's pet. Using a mirror to look at yourself, try to paint a self portrait. Now, add in your furry/feathered/scaly/slimy/soft friend. 


Thank you so much to Red Balloon Bookshop for partnering with us on this series! If you'd like to see all of the Family Book Club picks in one place, check out their FBC page