Monday, 8 November 2010

BOOK REVIEW - Katie and the Mona Lisa - By James Mayhew

Katie and the Mona Lisa
Since Alisdair is studying some of the great Master Artists using the "Hands-on History Activity-Paks Artists CD-ROM," I was doing some research on Leonardo da Vinci.  While searching for other materials, I came across the colourful picture book, "Katie and the Mona Lisa" by James Mayhew (published by Orchard Books/New York and copyright 1999 - 32 pages). 

It sounded intriguing, so I ordered this book through inter-library loans.  We were not disappointed.  Even Isobel enjoyed hearing about young Katie and her encounters with five paintings from the Italian Renaissance period.

The content is summed up at Google Books as follows:  "At the art museum, while her grandmother dozes, Katie steps into the painting of the Mona Lisa and together they have adventures with the characters from four other well-known Renaissance paintings. Includes information about the artists."

The first featured painting is, of course, the Mona Lisa:

The Mona Lisa - Leonardo Da Vinci
 The next work is St. George and the Dragon by his contemporary, Raphael;

St. George and the Dragon - Raphael
 This is followed by Primavera by Sandro Botticelli:

Primavera - Sandro Botticelli
and The Lion of St. Mark by Vittore Carpaccio:

The Lion of St. Mark - Vittore Carpaccio
 and the final painting is An Angel with a Lute by one of Leonardo Da Vinci's students.

An Angel with a Lute - by an associate of Leonardo Da Vinci

This book is the perfect way to introduce some of the classic paintings of the Renaissance to children, of all ages.  My 5-year old daughter loved it (I am sure she was imagining that she was Katie as I read her the book several times).  She also enjoyed saying "Mona Lisa" every time we got to a place in the text that used the name of the mysterious smiling lady in the painting.

I was pleased to note there are ten titles, in the Katie series, including the first adventure titled "Katie's Picture Show."  The others are:

Katie and the Bathers
Katie and the Dinosaurs
Katie and the Sunflowers
Katie in London
Katie Meets the Impressionists
Katie and the Spanish Princess
Katie and the British Artists
and the most recent publication - Katie and the Waterlily Pond.

Mayhew has also written and illustrated ballet books about Ella Bella, a ballerina, as well as several other titles.

Since Isobel is very keen on ballet, I will be ordering the rest of the volumes from the Katie series and the Ella Bella ones, too.

For more information on James Mayhew and how he began writing the Katie books (the name was chosen for his sister Kate), follow the link, below:

He also has a blog for Ella Bella the Ballerina and a personal blog.  Introduce yourself, and your children, to the writing and illustrations of James Mayhew.  You'll be glad you did!

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