Katie and the Starry Night by James Mayhew

It’s not easy to make something as abstract as art ‘come alive’ for kids, but that is exactly what the author has succeeded in doing via his imaginative ‘Katie’ series of books that weave real masterpieces by renowned artists into the creative plotlines. One such title is Katie and the Starry Night, which, naturally, stars (pun intended) five paintings by Vincent van Gogh.

In the story, Katie’s grandma brings her to an art gallery to see Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. When her grandma gets a little shut-eye in the gallery, Katie decides to take a closer look at her favourite piece, Starry Night — and ends up inside the painting itself! Alas, the trouble begins when Katie decides to keep one of the sparkling stars, resulting in the other stars spilling out of the painting and into the gallery… This sparks off a mini adventure where Katie has to enlist the help of the characters (and objects) in some of the other paintings, in order to get the stars to return to their rightful positions in the painting where they belong.


Since the focus here is on van Gogh’s paintings, it must be said that the author/illustrator did a great job in reproducing the artist’s distinctive brushstrokes and creating the fantastical scenes where the characters and other elements in the paintings interact with little Katie. This not only makes for an interesting story, but adds new interest to the various elements in the paintings, allowing them to be seen in a whole new light. As a bonus, the author has also included a short bio on the artist and his paintings at the end of the book. A great way to introduce fine art and artists to children.

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