Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew

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Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A gentle edutainment combining magical adventure with an introduction to the Spanish masters' art and a bit of social history, this is very worth borrowing, and might make a nice present before you take the little one wandering round an art gallery.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Orchard Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846162480

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Katie and the Spanish Princess is part of an edutainment series which aims to introduce small children to the masterpieces of the world of art. In each of the books, Katie visits a museum or a gallery with her grandma, and while grandma sleeps, Katie steps into the paintings.

And so in the current volume: grandma is making a Princess costume for Katie's fancy dress party, and they go to a gallery for inspiration. And what better inspiration for a lavish Princess dress could there be than ... yes, the Velasquez' Infanta Margarita. This is the start of a short tour of the Spanish painting, with more Velasquez, Goya and a Murillo included. Katie and Margarita swap clothes and run from painting to painting, sampling the art as well as having a wee lesson in social history: Katie discovers how hard it is to run in a crinoline, while both she and Margarita come a bit humbled from an encounter with a peasant boy who gives away his last piece of bread to catch a wayward magpie. It all ends with both girls deciding that they are glad to be themselves. And what of Katie's costume? You'll need to read to find out.

The story is very light-hearted and is more than appropriate for the target market (presumably late pre-school and the first couple of years of primary school) and provides an accessible, easy introduction to the art that features in the book. The magic element adds an adventure feel, though it's hard to imagine anybody getting particularly excited about the story - it's too perfunctory to truly engage but then it's not really its point. The art gets brought closer as Katie - literally - enters the world that Velasquez' and Goya's subjects inhabited.

The language is easy and a child just beginning to read could cope with the story on their own, provided an adult helped with the Spanish names and elaborate picture titles. As my six year old is Katie too, she was very happy to read Katie's parts of the dialogue and narration while I read the other characters.

There is also short information about the painters and the listing of the artworks: all in all, ideal for an educational setting, it would also be a good little book to give as a present - perhaps by a grandparent or aunt, and perhaps before taking a child for a gallery visit (two of the paintings featured are in the National Gallery in London).

Thanks go the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.

This Land is Your Land has an iconic song and excellent, if altogether different kind of art with a social commentary as well.

Buy Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew at Amazon.com.


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