We recently brought a set of the Katie books by James Mayhew. These are picture books where a little girl, Katie, and her Grandmother visit art galleries as well as central London and the Natural History Museum. Katie has adventures when she goes into paintings, finds live dinosaurs or rides on a lion. The paintings involved are based on real, famous paintings.
The two younger children love these books so today we went for a visit to Trafalgar Square to see the lions which play a important part in Katie in London, and to the National Gallery, also on Trafalgar Square, to see van Gogh's famous sunflower painting which figures in Katie and the sunflowers.
It was such a beautiful day just right for seeing the lions.
The fountains were a great attraction on such a hot day. There was a man, in waders, sweeping one!
On to the National Gallery, to see the famous Sunflower painting. We didn't find it straight away but wondered through a few rooms. Miss Belle suddenly pointed out the picture of "The king of Spain" and so it was: Philip IV in Brown and Silver by Velazquez. Spotting this was completely thanks to another Katie book, Katie and the Spanish Princess.
The downside of the books is that pictures from all over the world are brought together to make a story so I had to explain that we wouldn't be able to see the picture of Philip IV's daughter, Infanta Margarita, as it lives in Vienna, not in the same gallery, as in the book.
Overall, though, the Gallery made much more sense to the children having heard stories about several of the pictures before. They spotted several more from the books before we had finished. There are now requests to return to the National Gallery to find more of the pictures and to go to the Natural History Museum to see dinosaur skeletons.
Of course, when we got home, we had to read some of the books again. I think that I've learnt as much as the children from the books and have also been surprised at how easily the children can distinguish fact from fiction in the books.