Sister Corita's words and shapes

Jeanette Winter

Book - 2021

"A picture book biography of the woman known by some as the Pop Art Nun: Sister Corita Kent, who gained acclaim for her bold, graphic pop art that calls for peace, equality, and justice"--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jE/Winter Checked In
New York : Beach Lane Books [2021]
First edition
Physical Description
42 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 23 cm
Ages 3-8.
Grades 2-3.
Includes bibliographical references.
Main Author
Jeanette Winter (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Winter abandons her usual restraint to pay fulsome tribute to a nun, artist, and teacher whose character and work were themselves anything but restrained. Corita Kent was a pop artist who created vibrant cutouts and splashes of color, often made of or adorned with inspirational or political messages, that have decorated billboards, postage stamps, and countless bedroom walls. Along with capturing both a sense of the artist's "whirlwind" personality and the exuberance of her art, the author explains in a generally succinct narrative and an afterword how her outgoing style sparked a conflict with a certain conservative archbishop that led to her leaving her order and habit behind, but not her faith. Sister Corita's "Ten Rules" ("RULE 1. Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while") at the end will leave both older and younger readers thoughtful. They're doubly blessed, too, to have (along with Matthew Burgess' Make Meatballs Sing: The Life and Art of Corita Kent) two bright and perceptive picture-book portraits this year.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Winter's biographical narrative of Sister Corita Kent (1918--1986) depicts her art as "letters and words and shapes and writing" that "tell us what she believes--she believes in Goodness and in God." Straightforward language tells a simple story of a woman who becomes a nun in California, shows "her students a new way of seeing" by breaking the world down into details, and runs afoul of an archbishop after assembling a colorful St. Mary's Day celebration. (Younger readers unfamiliar with Catholicism may need outside resources.) By the time Kent renounces convent life and heads to Boston to make art, it's clear that she has become famous, though not exactly how. Because the narrative omits some important context--particularly mention of mid-century conflicts that made Kent's faith in goodness meaningful and her radically democratic artistic choices resonant--readers may have a hard time grasping the significance of her work. Digital illustrations offer a loose, stylized version of Kent's art style in fresh hues, including some of the source material that inspired her. Back matter includes biographical information and Kent's rules for her students. Ages 3--8. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3--The author of numerous picture book art biographies turns her attention to Sister Corita (1918--86)--artist, educator, and activist whose silkscreens, with their messages of love, peace, and social justice, were ubiquitous in the 1960s and early 1970s. Inspired by the era in which she lived, Sister Corita employed vibrant colors and, at times, snippets of consumer logos typical of Pop Art in her work, along with words and quotes in response to the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. The author describes the innovative educator as a "tiny whirlwind" who encouraged her students to "find the details in the larger picture." Her progressive ideas at Immaculate Heart College caused the archbishop of Los Angeles to call them "blasphemous," and she left the convent soon after. Winter's signature style is in evidence here: one or two simple sentences per page that capture the spirit of the person and time, and shallow-stage scenes against a white background. With a nod to the artist, she incorporates words into most of the illustrations, and often makes bold color choices. Winter includes Sister Corita's "10 Rules" for students, which offer a glimpse into the woman's teaching methods, comments on the new openness of the Catholic Church after Vatican II, and a brief, selected bibliography. VERDICT Parochial schools will want this title, as well as libraries where there is a need for books about artists, activists, and those who lead a religious life.--Daryl Grabarek, formerly at School Library Journal

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Horn Book Review

Corita Kent's "Rainbow Swash" is a long-familiar sight to Boston commuters, splashed across an enormous natural gas tank alongside Interstate 93, but her bold, bright, and devout serigraphs were everywhere in the 1960s and 1970s. Corita is an apt choice for Winter's hagiographic leanings and iconographic style; see, for example, her previous picture-book biographies of Georgia O'Keeffe (rev. 9/98), Hildegard of Bingen (rev. 9/07), and Zaha Hadid (rev. 9/17). As ever, Winter's focus is on the art and the inspiration it both requires and bestows. As a teaching nun in Los Angeles, Corita taught her students to look closely everywhere, to find the sacred in the mundane, as in her famous that they may have life, which pairs a close-up view of a Wonder Bread label with a quote from Gandhi about the presence of God in bread. Winter's own modest, miniaturist style contrasts well with her depictions of Corita's exuberant splashes and swashes and scrawls, and the joyful creativity of both artists is palpable. Appended are Corita's (terrific) ten rules for her students, a bit about her conflicts with the Church, and a brief bibliography. Roger Sutton September/October 2021 p.128(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

A celebration of the art and singular artistic vision of Corita Kent. One page is devoted to Kent's childhood. Readers then meet her as an adult and read about her entry into the Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent to become a nun. Emphasizing that she was a "nun, and a teacher, and an artist--all at the same time," the text delves into what kind of teacher she was: unconventional, devout, and dynamic. Subsequent spreads are about the unique ways in which she taught her students to see the world. Feeling stifled by the archbishop's disapproval of her methods, she leaves both convent and vocation, "finds peace," and continues to paint: "Now her church is her vision." Illustrations feature small vignettes done in Winter's signature style and encased in ample white space, with occasional double-page spreads; they include the kind of colorful patterned backgrounds Kent was known for, many of them a series of dots. Kent's tour through the city with students gives readers their perspective; children will look anew at details with an empty square as a finder, just as Kent had her students do. The book's backmatter includes Kent's 10 rules for her students (ending with "there should be new rules next week"), a note about her life, and a selected bibliography. All characters present White. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A deeply reverent tribute. (Picture book/biography. 4-10) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.