Monday, September 10, 2012

{Guest Post} My Favourite Children's Author: James Mayhew

I'm very happy to introduce a fellow mum blogger who will be sharing all about her favourite children's author - James Mayhew.

Lyn is a mum to two sweet little girls, aged almost 4 and 1.5 years respectively.  She blogs because she has all these little thoughts knocking about in her head that need an outlet.  Lyn loves writing, loves chronicling memories for posterity, and loves the key subjects of her blog - hubby and kids!


One of our favourite authors is James Mayhew, and we came across his books by chance, at the British Museum when I was there with hubby and K (at 18 months).  I usually don't buy stuff at museum shops, but ended up buying two titles by him that day.

I was pleased to later find that our libraries also stock his books! The books comprise all the elements of a good children's book to me - lovely illustrations, captivating imaginative story lines that blur the line between fiction and fantasy and themes that appeal to young children, all written in a language that is simple yet not childish.

I also liked the fact that so many of his books were art-focused, which makes it a great way to introduce young ones to the slightly more abstract concept of great art.

Reading-level wise, there are about three to five sentences at the bottom of each page (that contains huge illustrations), and the books are suitable for reading aloud to children from 2.5 to 5 years old.  Perhaps around 4 years of age, kids will be interested in reading some words or sentences themselves. But it's not really a "I can read" or 'Peter and Jane' type book (which to me has no/very thin plot!), not until the children are 5 or 6 I think.

Today, I am reviewing "Katie and the WaterLily Pond", a delightful book about Katie's adventures at a Monet Exhibition, whilst her grandma naps in the gallery (a very common premise of the books).

This is proof that our glorious NLB stocks this - though the tag usually annoys me cos it obscures a good part of most book covers. Argh!

I realised that I had acquired this print during my student days too!  Can't remember from which museum, but I was very pleased to unearth it to feature in this blog activity and post.

The story features Katie wandering in and out of five Monet Masterpieces, and trying to paint one to enter into the museum's competition for children.  (spoiler ahead) After various botched attempts, she decides that nothing could go wrong in a peaceful waterlily pond, and tries to enter that painting to capture what she can see. Alas!  A little green frog in the pond snatches her painting and drops it into the pond! When she fishes it out, the colours have all smudged together.

Voila! The judges decide that the watery painting is most Monet, and Katie wins the competition.

So our craft task (simple one) was to reproduce this painting.  I toyed with the idea of watercolours, but didn't think I had the right ones. So I figured we could try making an impressionist crayon drawing instead!

With my favourite $2 soft crayon set from Daiso. I held K's hand and guided her in the drawing of the bridge, then drew a few waterlily pads and asked her to go over them with white to get a more blurry smudged effect.

Then I realised I could just shade in the vague shades of light and green, where they were supposed to appear, and go over those with light green or white to get the right effect!  K enjoyed dotting in the pink waterlily flowers - no surprise, that!

Ta-DAH - our Monet Waterlily Pond

It was a fun exercise, and an interesting activity for bonding, that I wouldn't have thought of if not for this review.

As promised earlier, here's more about the titles I bought.  Katie in London is about how one of the huge stone lions of Trafalgar's Square bring Katie and her little brother Jack, traipsing all over the key sights in London.

So all in all, I'd really recommend James Mayhew's books, and do grab a copy from your local library.


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