MAKE MEATBALLS SING

THE LIFE & ART OF CORITA KENT

Celebrate the life of artist, nun, and activist Corita Kent.

When Frances Elizabeth Kent first receives art lessons as a sixth grader, she becomes, in Burgess’ poetic telling, “a bird in the breeze of her brush”; the phrase is repeated with powerful effect in the final spread of this compelling picture-book biography. As an adult, Frances joins the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, becoming Sister Mary Corita. The book chronicles her years of teaching, during which she coins the portmanteau plork, "when play and work are one”; her training in silk-screening; and her transformation of the art department of Immaculate Heart College into a “lively center of art and design.” With art that encourages seeing “the sacred in the everyday” and her passion for speaking out against social injustices and war, Corita makes waves and angers the archbishop. After release from her vows, she moves to Boston to continue to make art. The text shines with a deeply felt reverence for Corita’s work and makes explicit her influence as a teacher, artist, and activist. Design choices, including a double gatefold in the book’s center and a surprise cover beneath the dust jacket, emphasize Corita’s inspired mission. The lively, brightly colored illustrations feature occasional photo collage elements and incorporate a vivid blue bird as a symbol of Corita and her artistic spirit. Corita is White; some classroom and community scenes include characters of color. Detailed backmatter fleshes out Corita’s life and accomplishments.

Delightful. Plork! (chronology, author's note, illustrator's note, quotation sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-316-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining.

DR. SEUSS'S HORSE MUSEUM

A succinct introduction to art history via a Seussian museum of equine art.

This posthumously published text recently discovered in Ted Geisel’s studio uses horse-focused art pieces to provide historical context to artistic movements. Showing art ranging from the Lascaux cave paintings to an untitled 1994 sculpture by Deborah Butterfield, Joyner’s playful illustrations surround the curated photographs of art pieces. By using horses as the departing point in the artistic journey, Seuss and Joyner are able to introduce diverse perspectives, artifacts, and media, including Harnessed Horse from the northern Wei dynasty, a Navajo pictorial blanket titled Oh, My Beautiful Horses, and photographs by Eadweard Muybridge. Questions to readers prompt thought about the artistic concepts introduced, aided by a cast of diverse museumgoers who demonstrate the art terms in action. Joyner further engages readers by illustrating both general cultural and Seussian references. Glimpses of the Cat in the Hat are seen throughout the book; he poses as a silent observer, genially guarding Seuss’ legacy. For art enthusiasts, some illustrations become an inside joke, as references to artists such as Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Marina Abramovic, and René Magritte make appearances. Thorough backmatter contains notes on each art piece referenced along with a study of the manuscript’s history and Seuss’ artistic style. Absent, probably unsurprisingly, is any acknowledgment of the Cat’s antecedents in minstrelsy and Seuss’ other racist work, but prominent among the museumgoers are black- and Asian-presenting characters as well as a girl wearing hijab and a child who uses a wheelchair.

A galloping marvel—enlightening and entertaining. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55912-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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