Sister Corita’s Words and Shapes (Jeanette Winter)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sister Corita’s Words and Shapes by Jeanette Winter, a picture book biography of pop artist Corita Kent.

As a young girl in Los Angeles, Frances Elizabeth Kent knew two things: that she loved to create art, and that she wanted to take her orders as a nun. Upon entering the convent and becoming Sister Mary Corita, she devoted herself to making art that represented her faith in God: His love, His people, and the world. She encouraged her art students to focus on the beautiful details of life, and made bold, colorful art that celebrated joy and hope, making it available for all to enjoy. When the archbishop of Los Angeles condemned Sister Corita’s work, she made the choice to leave the church and focus on her art, continued to spread love and beauty for the rest of her life through her paintings and prints.

A fascinating life story in a sometimes confusing package. Corita Kent – the name she went by after leaving the church – is an interesting figure in both her life story and within the art world; at a time when art was becoming increasingly cynical and commercial, her work was rooted in accessibility and optimism. Winter’s title is clearly a love letter to Kent’s mission, emulating Kent’s artistic style in the illustrations and using a clever visual device that frames each page through the “lens” of the “finders” Kent would have her students use to observe real life details. However, there are a few hiccups: several words and concepts in the text, such as “blasphemy” or “insomnia”, may be a little over the heads of the target audience. Also, considering the book’s universal themes, it’s disappointing to see nearly every single character within present as white (even in crowd scenes). But otherwise, the length is good for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the bold, pop-art style illustrations. Overall, a compelling story with a few hiccups, but definitely worth a look. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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