Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew

We bought Katie and the Spanish Princess from the National Gallery Book Shop quite a while ago now and this book has since become a firm favourite with Garden Girl. We read it most days and she is now familiar enough with the story that she will tell the story to Garden Lass herself. Katie is a young girl who visits an art gallery in order to gain inspiration for the Princess costume her Grandma is making for her fancy dress party. But when the paintings start to come alive Katie finds herself jumping in and out of paintings on an exciting adventure with the Spanish Princess.

Both Garden Girl and myself love the idea of jumping inside the pictures, talking with the people who are depicted and seeing a world beyond that which can be seen in the painting. It has changed the way we look at paintings when we visit art galleries ourselves. Instead of just talking about what we can see, we delve deeper and imagine the world beyond. When we enter a gallery we now choose the picture we would most like to jump inside and talk about why and the adventures we will have there. The book itself also offers plenty of opportunity for discussion.

The illustrations are charming and animated and full of adventure, with excellent reproductions of five famous paintings and the story itself well written, with enough action to hold a child’s attention. Garden Boy at age two will happily sit through the story with his older sister and will re-enact chasing the bird in and out of paintings. A book that can generate so much discussion and make traditional art so accessible to young children while offering an exciting story time experience is well worth acquiring for your bookshelf. It is one of those books that will be read time and time again.

You can buy a copy of this picture book here.