Book Review: Library of Luminaries series


Library of Luminaries: Frida Kahlo

Zena Alkayat, Illustrated by Nina Cosford

Chronicle Books

128 pages







Library of Luminaries: Jane Austen

Zena Alkayat, Illustrated by Nina Cosford

Chronicle Books

128 pages


Frida Kahlo and Jane Austen are two of the four books in a series done by Chronicle Books. The series spotlights different famous women and chronicles their lives in a simplistic format. The text is accompanied by whimsical illustrations. The books are small–I would say about as tall and as wide as a slice of bread and they start from birth and continue on until death.

My thoughts:

I first saw these books a few months ago and loved the idea of an easy to digest biography with fun illustrations. I put in a request with my library that they purchase at least one or two (my library’s consortium didn’t own a single copy, which truthfully I have never had to request that they purchase a book before as they have always had at least one copy of what I’m looking for in the consortium). Much to my delight, my library purchased all four books. And apparently they are popular, as three were immediately checked out.

I started with Frida Kahlo, as it was the only one my library had. Admittedly, I knew nothing about Kahlo but I was blown away by her story. I loved learning about her childhood and her marital circumstances. I think that the bright, cultural clothes and furnishings she surrounded herself with really lent themselves to the format of an illustrated biography. The book took me less than 20 minutes to read cover to cover, but I would certainly love to read more about Kahlo in the future.


I eventually got my hands on Jane Austen and truthfully, it just wasn’t as vibrant to me as Kahlo’s. I enjoyed reading it, and Alkayat included excerpts from Jane’s letters, as well as those of her sister Cassandra, which really added to the book. Maybe had I gone in not knowing as much about Jane, and her books, I would have gotten more out of Jane Austen.


I love this series and definitely plan on reading the other two books (Virginia Wolf and Coco Chanel). I think these would be fantastic gifts and I also think they would be great additions to a children’s library, as the pictures are exciting and the biographies are easily digestible.


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