Tag Archives: James Mayhew

Schools for Charlotte Square

It’s short and sweet, the schools programme at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. ‘Making books more affordable’ is a good motto, I feel. May it be successful and reach the children who need it the most.

I know I shouldn’t read the programme and plan, but I can read it and think. Some of the authors on the schools list will be doing ‘normal’ events too. And there is always the perfecting my school appearance. One of these days it will work.

Last year someone I’d just met talked very enthusiastically about Jason Reynolds, whom I’d never heard of. Well, this American is coming over, for an event with Chris Priestley who has illustrated his book. That should be pretty special.

Clémentine Beauvais is someone else I’ve not seen before, and she will be appearing with Sarah Crossan, which will be good. James Mayhew I have always managed to miss, so I could perhaps undo that, and Melvin Burgess, whom I’ve seen a lot, is coming back after a break of a few years. Or did I merely miss him?

Ehsan Abdollahi and Delaram Ghanimifard

Ehsan Abdollahi will return, which pleases me, and he’s appearing with Eloise Greenfield. I’ve not seen Beverley Naidoo for years, and I don’t know her events partner Marjan Vafaeian at all, which I hope can be remedied.

I will quickly tiptoe past the ‘star attraction’ on the Thursday morning, to mention that the last day will be special as always, with people like Theresa Breslin and Philip Ardagh and lots of other fun.

As you can tell, many school children will have some great events to look forward to. I’m always in awe of the school groups who get up before dawn cracks, to travel across Scotland to come to one of the events. Hopefully it will be a memory for life, and be the beginning of a bookish future for some.

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Making art

Oh how I wish books like these had existed when I was the right age!

The Artist in You, by Julie Brunelle and Peter Wood, is perfect on more than one count. First they show you some famous, but still gorgeous, works of art, from pop art to old masters. They talk you through what you are seeing, which means that you learn about the paintings, and the painters, and facts about painting. (And then I want to rip the pages out to stick on my poor walls again.)

Julie Brunelle and Peter Wood, The Artist in You

Julie and Peter then show you how to achieve art like this, a sort of ‘do this at home.’ I’d have loved that – although most likely it would have been frustrating – and I am sure there are many hopeful young artists who will want to have a go.

Then we have two books by James Mayhew, for slightly younger artists. In Learn to Draw with Katie, James also shows his readers how to copy the great masters, and in this case he helps a bit, by having provided simple drawings to ‘colour in.’

James Mayhew, Learn to Draw with Katie

And in Discover Art with Katie, we have stickers! I love stickers, and I know I’m not alone in this. I have just about managed not having a go myself, ‘improving’ a few of the classic paintings we all know. Described as an activity book, there are puzzles and word-searches as well.

So, three fun books about art, and how to do it yourself.

Get Colouring With Katie

Get those colouring pens out! James Mayhew’s Katie is back, and this time she has some half-finished masterpieces for us.

James Mayhew, Get Colouring With Katie

If you are a long-term fan of James’s, you will recognise these pictures. As you will if you are a regular in art galleries or paid attention at school.

Fifteen works of art where James has helped with lines and things to get you started. And I believe you want to be quite careful as you go, since this really is fine art, so no big, sweeping brush strokes, please.

With care, this book could keep you, or your child, quiet for most of the summer holidays. And, you could always see if you can go and visit some of the originals. See who did the better job.

I love Katie!

Katie’s Picture Show

This is the last (of my pile) of James Mayhew’s picture books about Katie, but I understand that it was James’s first one, which was re-issued a couple of years ago to celebrate 25 years of Katie misbehaving in art galleries. ‘Katie had never been to an art gallery before,’ but it might as well have said something about Katie never having climbed into famous works of art before.

James Mayhew, Katie's Picture Show

Here we discover how she began (after all, how do you find out you can climb into art?), and it does explain why she has continued her art visitations ever since. I sympathise with Grandma who needs to sit down as soon as they arrive. It’s what I do, too.

In Katie’s Picture Show Katie meets some of the best known art, art that even I have seen in real life. But none of this spilling tea on elegant French ladies or stealing pieces of cake, shifting her booty from picture to picture. She helps herself to quite a lot of food, but then I’ve never before considered that people – or tigers – in pictures might be hungry. Or bored and lonely, wanting a conversation or a play session.

James Mayhew, Katie's Picture Show

Modern art, on the other hand, can prove dangerously slippery, and Katie ‘didn’t want to be eaten by a piece of modern art.’ That particular escapade shows us that the guards in the art gallery aren’t such complete idiots after all. This one knew exactly what Katie was up to.

(So it might not merely be Katie’s personal talent, but a more general magic. Don’t touch the displays!)

Katie and the Starry Night

Here is Katie, back in the art gallery, back causing mayhem, in James Mayhew’s Katie and the Starry Night. Which, as any old person will know, is about Vincent van Gogh, and you probably know all the words to the song as well.

Katie’s Grandma feels sleepy, so ‘rests’ on a bench while Katie looks at a painting with lots of stars in. And she helps herself to one of them. After which mayhem breaks loose, as the stars float away, out of the picture, with Katie in hot pursuit.

James Mayhew, Katie and the Starry Night

In order to catch them she needs the help of various people from some other of Vincent’s paintings, as well as implements such as chairs and ladders and fishing nets. Luckily the people in the paintings are helpful and up for anything, so those stars are eventually caught and returned to where they belong.

In turn, Katie and every reader now knows these works of art rather intimately.

I know I say this every time, but I felt especially close to this story. I used to be very fond of van Gogh. In fact, during my year as a student in Brighton, there was a van Gogh in my bedroom, and for a while I was awfully worried it was the genuine deal.

Katie and the Impressionists

I suspect Grandma. Too much funny business happens when Katie is with her. This time it’s her birthday, and Katie wants to find some flowers for Grandma. Where better than in a work of art?

James Mayhew, Katie and the Impressionists

I can’t think of a more fun way of introducing young readers to classical art than to show them James Mayhew’s books. They will learn without even realising.

In this book Katie jumps in and out of Impressionist paintings, covering quite a few famous works of art. I wish I’d known it was possible to do this, back when I used to return to the Courtauld Insititute every time I was in London. Those were the days!

It’s so interesting the way James can shape an actual story out of several paintings, making a coherent plot as Katie falls in and out of masterpieces. The last tiny picture is really very clever indeed.

Katie’s London Christmas

I’ve had the most delicious pile of blue Christmas books lying waiting for my permission to read them coming through. It’s close enough to Christmas now, and I’m allowed, so here goes:

James Mayhew (yes, him again) has a new picture book out and this time Katie and Jack are at Grandma’s when Father Christmas sneezes by. His cold is hampering his up-and-down-the-chimneys speed, so the children go with him to help out.

James Mayhew, Katie's London Christmas

The pictures are lovely! They fly all over London, taking in the sights. (If you ask me, that seems like wasting even more time, when there are children needing their presents delivered.) And London is beautiful.

They visit small house and large houses, finishing with one of the largest in town, where the corgis are plentiful and asleep under a tree that is almost as nice as mine. Asleep until Father Christmas sneezes again, and they have rather a narrow escape.

This is obviously fantasy. Some things are just not real. I mean, snow – beautiful, clean, cold snow – in the middle of London! And, actually, Father Christmas looks quite a bit like James Mayhew…

Atchoo-oo-ooo.