Activities & Resources:
Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring discussion guide (Angela Cervantes website):
Create your own self-portrait. Include important details about you and your life:
Find out how Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City, inspired Angela Cervantes to write Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring. Read this guest blogger post on the On Our Minds Scholastic blog:
Learn about the artist, Rafael Lopez, who created the cover art for Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring:
Biography of Rafael Lopez, the artist and creator of the cover art:
If available through your school or school library, BrainPop has a resource guide for Frida Kahlo:
Frida Kahlo expression through self-portrait (Scholastic lesson):
Learn about the ‘Blue House’:
Explore the Frida Kahlo Museum, The Blue House, virtually:
If available through your school library, the Gale resource, Kid InfoBits, provides information about the main setting of the novel, Mexico City.
Draw Frida Kahlo:
In her famous self-portraits and in many photos, Frida Kahlo can be seen wearing flowers in her hair. The flowers were usually picked from her garden at Casa Azul. Taking inspiration from Frida Kahlo’s love of her garden and create a Frida Kahlo Inspired Headband:
A Frida Kahlo coloring page:
Frida Kahlo is the “queen of the selfies” (p 23). In honor of Frida Kahlo’s love of the selfie, create a digital self-portrait inspired by Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits:
A nicho box is similar to a shadow box. It is decorated to honor an important figure or loved one. Nicho boxes are an adaptation of a retablo. Create a nicho or retablo to honor Frida Kahlo or create a nicho to celebrate and honor a loved one. The tutorial requires a die-cut machine, but a nicho box can be easily created with scissors, glue, and other easily found craft supplies:
Recreate the Casa Azul house using Legos or cardboard. The model of Casa Azul can become interactive when Makey Makey and Scratch coding program are used to add an audio tour of the house.
Create a digital tour of Mexico City with Google Tour Builder. If your school or library has Google Cardboard available the kids can create a virtual tour of Mexico City:
Paloma is traveling to Mexico City with her mother, and she is not thrilled with the having to stay in Mexico over the summer. Have you ever had to do something over a school break that you didn’t want to do? How did you deal with the change in plans?
For Paloma, what is the one silver lining about the trip to Mexico City? Why is this unexpected and unwanted trip a good thing?
Paloma is drawn to mysteries and is a fan of a mystery series called Lulu Pennywhistle. Why is she always on a hunt for clues?
Every memory Paloma’s mother shares with her is written down and kept in a “memory box.” Do you have a special place where you keep mementos, important objects, or “memories”?
What is Paloma trying to piece together about her father? What does she hope to find by keeping all of these “memories” in one place?
Paloma likes that her first big trip is to Mexico, the birth country of her Dad. Do you have a special place you like to visit or travel to with your family? Why is the place special?
Paloma comes face to face with a print of one of Frida Kahlo’s famous self-portraits. What is her initial reaction when she sees the famous artist’s appearance? Why is she so taken with the striking, unfamiliar image?
Paloma’s mom explains to Paloma that Frida Kahlo was known for self-portraits “because she knew herself best” (p 12). Would you describe a selfie taken with a phone the same way? Explain your answer in a few sentences.
Paloma likes to pin different types of flowers to her hair, similar to the the flower head pieces Frida Kahlo would wear. Do you have something your wear every day? A piece of jewelry or your favorite sneakers? Why are these items special to you?
The first night in Mexico City, Paloma and her mother attend a reception at Frida Kahlo’s house, Casa Azul. Paloma feels out of place at the reception and wishes she could be as confident as her favorite fictional character, Lulu Pennywhistle. Have you ever felt uncomfortable or nervous in an unfamiliar setting? How did you work through your nerves?
Paloma notices the quote, “Viva la Vida” or “long live life” in one of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and immediately feels “warm all over.” Have you ever read something that immediately changed your mood for the better? Why do you think words have that power?
When Paloma looks at Frida Kahlo’s paintings, she usually has more questions than answers. It can be difficult to understand an artist’s motives. Think of a time when you looked at a picture, image, or illustration that you didn’t immediately understand. What steps did you go through to find the meaning in the image?
Gael slips a note to Paloma the first night they meet. He tells her a “great injustice has happened” and that “it’s a matter of life and death” (p 32). That night Paloma is visited in her dream by Frida Kahlo. Frida tells Paloma that she has lost something but so has Paloma. Why did the dream seem so realistic to Paloma?
Paloma’s mom puts pictures of Paloma’s father around the apartment. She tells Paloma that being in the city is making her remember things about her father. Have you ever gone somewhere and were reminded of something or someone? Describe that experience.
Although Paloma does not agree to help Lizzie and Gael, when she is looking at the Fortune Teller’s rings she decides to investigate. Why does Paloma question the fortune teller about the peacock ring? What changed her mind?
When Paloma finds out about Lizzie and Gael’s father, she is unsure whether she wants to continue to help them. Why do you think she chooses to forgive them for lying?
After Frida Kahlo’s accident she couldn’t leave her bed, While she was healing from the accident she discovered painting. Why do you think art was an escape for the artist? What do you do to make yourself feel better when you are not feeling well?
As Paloma learned more about Frida Kahlo’s life she changed her perception of the artist. She tells Professor Breton and the art class that she no longer sees “the hairy eyebrows anymore. [She] see(s) a perfect bird with its wings expanded in flight” (p 119). What does Paloma mean when she uses the metaphor, “wings expanded in flight?”
Throughout the book Paloma learned the Spanish words for courage or valor and brave or valiente. What makes someone brave?
Other than her new found respect and love of Frida Kahlo’s art, and an appreciation for her father’s home, what did Paloma gain from her trip to Mexico?
Book Talk Teasers:
Watch Angela Cervantes introduce her book, Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring. The video can be found on the Texas Bluebonnet Award resource page (1:07):
Use the Me, Frida, and the Mystery of the Peacock Ring readers theater script to introduce the story.
Friends & Detectives:
Adler, David A. Cam Jansen and the Valentine Baby Mystery. Just as her mother is about to give birth, Cam Jansen, along with her best friend Eric, while in the waiting room, discover that their camera is missing and must race against time to find it before her Valentine’s Day sibling is born. (NoveList Plus)
Cleverly, Sophie. The Dance in the Dark. With a kindly new headmaster at Rookwood School, Scarlet and Ivy hope to focus on learning more about their mother but weird things start happening after a new ballet teacher arrives. (NoveList Plus)
Hale, Bruce. The Malted Falcon. Chet Gecko and his partner Natalie try to find a missing valentine and the winning ticket to a fantastic dessert. (NoveList Plus)
Hymas, Allison K. Arts and Thefts. Middle school retrieval specialist Jeremy Wilderson again must work with his archrival, Becca Mills, when someone sabotages the Summer Art Show where Chase’s work is being exhibited. (NoveList Plus)
Miller, Kirsten. The Empress’s Tomb. Fourteen-year-olds Ananka Fishbein, Kiki Strike, and the other Irregulars encounter a Chinese mummy, a ghost, trained squirrels, and old enemies as they try to stop an art forgery ring and safeguard the secret streets hidden beneath New York City. (NoveList Plus)
Paulsen, Gary. Mudshark. Principal Wagner confidently deals with a faculty washroom crisis, a psychic parrot, and a terrorizing gerbil, but when sixty-five erasers go missing, he enlists the help of the school’s best problem solver and locator of lost items, twelve-year-old Lyle Williams, aka Mudshark. (NoveList)
Stanley, Diane. The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy. Eighth-grader Franny and her friends investigate why most of the students at their exclusive boarding school are brilliant, beautiful, and perfectly behaved. (NoveList Plus)
Barnett, Mac. The Ghostwriter Secret. Twelve-year-old Steve is investigating a diamond heist, but the case suddenly changes when the author of the Bailey Brothers detective novels writes him a letter to say that he fears for his life. (NoveList Plus)
Mystery & History:
Draper, Sharon M. Lost in the Tunnel of Time. When members of the Black Dinosaur Club go on a field trip to a school which hides tunnels used by the Underground Railroad, they get stuck in a collapsed tunnel. (NoveList Plus)
Markovics, Joyce L. Mexico City. Welcome to Mexico City: The City of Palaces! Explore the Zocalo, Chapultepec Park, and other iconic places around the city. Plus, learn fascinating factoids. You’ll quickly see why millions of tourists visit this amazing city each year. (NoveList Plus)
Fabiny, Sarah. Who Was Frida Kahlo. You can always recognize a painting by Kahlo because she is in nearly all–with her black braided hair and colorful Mexican outfits. A brave woman who was an invalid most of her life, she transformed herself into a living work of art. As famous for her self-portraits and haunting imagery as she was for her marriage to another famous artist, Diego Rivera, this strong and courageous painter was inspired by the ancient culture and history of her beloved homeland, Mexico. Her paintings continue to inform and inspire popular culture around the world. (NoveList Plus)
Frith, Margaret. Frida Kahlo: the Artist Who Painted Herself. Biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, written as a child’s school report. (NoveList Plus)
Cervantes, Angela. Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring. Scholastic, 2018.
Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring.
Cervantes, Angela (author).
Mar. 2018. 240p. Scholastic, hardcover, $16.99 (9781338159318); Scholastic, e-book, $16.99 (9781338159332). Grades 4-7.
REVIEW. First published February 1, 2018 (Booklist).
While her mother completes a university fellowship in Mexico City one summer, biracial Paloma gets a chance to dive into both her Mexican roots and an intriguing mystery. While there, she meets a pair of siblings who ask her to help them find a stolen ring that originally belonged to Frida Kahlo. Luckily for them, Paloma is up for the job, but as she learns more about the individuals involved, it becomes harder to know whom to trust. As Paloma gets caught up in the increasingly complicated scheme surrounding the ring, following her own instincts becomes just as important as tracking down the thief. Paloma is a clever heroine who genuinely wants to do the right thing by everyone she cares about, and young readers will likely relate to her struggle in balancing her sense of justice with her feelings of responsibility to her mother. Naturally, Cervantes includes plenty of Spanish words and phrases, which are either defined in the narrative or easily understandable with context clues. Hand this to fans of art-based mysteries. — Kristina Pino
Used with the permission of Booklist https://www.booklistonline.com/
School Library Journal (December 1, 2017)
Gr 4-6-Paloma Marquez isn’t too excited about her first trip to Mexico. Her mom has a fellowship and has dragged Paloma along to introduce her to her father’s heritage. Paloma is annoyed that she has to study Spanish in summer school instead of heading to the beach with her friends. Despite her low expectations, she quickly makes some intriguing friends and gets involved in a mystery allowing her to emulate her favorite protagonist, Lulu Pennywhistle. Although the secondary characters are somewhat underdeveloped, the plot moves along at a good pace and young mystery fans will want to keep turning pages. The mystery revolves around Frida Kahlo, so readers learn quite a bit about Mexican art and culture. VERDICT A well-paced mystery plot and a rich exploration of the art of Frida Kahlo make this a good purchase for most middle grade collections.-Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.