“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

A couple of weekends ago I trotted off  to the library with a small list of picture books I intended to get for one reason or another and, well, somehow I came away with my arms full of lovely picture books of which non were on my list… oh dear.  But I think you will agree, like this one, there was something about them that just, well, called to me…


KatieAuthor/Illustrator:   James Mayhew

Published by:   Orchard Books 1998

Ages:   3 – 6 years

Themes:   Art, history, loneliness,  inquisitive

Opening lines:   Katie and her grandma often went to the gallery on their days out together.  Grandma liked to tell Katie all about the famous paintings.

“Which picture do you like best?” asked Grandma

“Mona Lisa,” said Katie.  “She smiled at me.”

“She smiles at everyone,” said Grandma.  “That’s why she’s famous.”

Synopsis:    A curious young girl wants to know what makes the Mona Lisa smile.  As she steps through the frame she finds not all is as it should be.  In order to help cheer the Mona Lisa up, they set out on an adventure together, stepping into other famous pictures… with disastrous results.  Thanks to Katie, the Mona Lisa eventually has something to smile about.

Why I like this:    I came across this book while looking for something else and was taken by the beautiful cover illustration.  This is one of nine books on Katie’s adventure in the art gallery, by James Mayhew.   An exert from Amazon states….   A passionate advocate of art and culture for the very young, James’s books range from Shakespearean anthologies (To Sleep, Perchance to Dream; Shakespeare’s Storybook), through to grand opera (The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera) and most recently ballet, with the Ella Bella Ballerina series. His books are published in many languages including Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, Catalan, Greek, German, Italian, Brazilian, French, Korean, Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Estonian.

As well as having over 50 books published he has illustrated many works for famous authors and written texts for illustrators.  Some have been adapted for television.  Another exert from Amazon states… James has devised and performed unique orchestral concerts for children with narration and live illustration, including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2008 he was invited to participate in workshops and children’s promenade performances at The Royal Opera House, Convent Garden.

With a unique ability to draw children in to appreciate fine art and history at a young age, it is no wonder he is in huge demand to give workshops and speak at conferences.  The text in this particular book is an easy read and the illustrations rich in depth, James cleverly mimics the works of famous artists before him.

Resources/Findings:   Katie’s own Blog….   http://katieandthemonalisalive.com/the-team/


James Blog….   http://james-mayhew-author-illustrator.blogspot.co.nz/2013/03/katie-and-mona-lisa-live.html

This website has some fun projects to teach our young kids to appreciate fine art…..   http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/09/15-fantastic-fine-art-projects-for-kids.html

Great website if you’re a teacher wanting to book a fine arts lesson to visit….  Checkout the blue tab at the bottom of the page and get some ideas…..   http://www.fineart4kids.com/index.html

For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Children's literature, Picture book, Picture Book Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. Wonderful! The plot of the book is really awesome! I love the cover! 😀

  2. This sounds like a great choice. Adventure plus art is a great combo.

  3. Love the idea alone – of trying to cheer the girl!

  4. laura516 says:

    Ooo! This looks lovely! And I love that there are many books in the series.

  5. Catherine Johnson says:

    I love the sound of this. It is so exciting getting to see the Mona Lisa and all the other wonderful paintings in the Louvre. Thanks, Diane!

    • It is exciting Catherine. Reminds me of when we visited the Louvre. Now when I look back I think of “wow, was I here, and what adventures there must have been” .. lol.

  6. What a great find, Diane. I love that she steps into the picture and goes on an adventure. Like your resources too.

  7. Joanna says:

    What a fabulous fantasy and great way to get kids excited about wonderful works of art. Great find, Diane!

  8. I like adventure stories where the characters step into the painting or book or whatever and become part of it. A great way to get kids to read some history! I’ll have to check into this one! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Diane, this book captured my attention. 🙂

  10. Darlene says:

    I love these books and have bought them for special little girls. Katie and The Spanish Princess is my favourite.

    • How cool, that you already know these. I can imagine the others would be just as delightful. Mmm…. the Spanish Princess, I must look for that one. Thanks Darlene.

  11. Sandi says:

    I like books that help my kindergarten students connect with artists and their work. I will have to check out this series. Thank you.

  12. Your review has spiked my interest in this book! 😀

  13. Pingback: Beautiful Blogger Award | Writer's Block Busters

  14. Cyranette says:

    Hello, sweetie! With eight grandchildren, I am always on the lookout for something new and entertaining to read or give to them. Aspiring writers of children’s books also have a reason to read your posts, therefore, I have nominated you for Beautiful Blogger Award. http://helpfromcyranette.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/beautiful-blogger-award/

  15. cassam101 says:

    Books like that are a great idea to draw children into art.I’m starting to collect books now for when my granddaughter will sit still for long enough for me to read to her.

  16. Oh I love this book, Joanna! It looks delicious. 🙂 And what a super cool way to encourage kids to open up to art. The resource list is fantastic! I am writing this one down!

    • Hi, *waves* it’s Diane here….. lol… think you have me mixed with Joanna, Vivian. I am glad you liked the book review and yes the resources are great.
      Glad you enjoyed this post, sweet lady!

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