London Bound

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Katie and the British Artists
James Mayhew
Orchard Books pbk
In this recent Katie reissue, our charming young heroine accompanies her Grandma to The National Gallery. On route she ponders on the question of what job she might have when grown up. Then, in the gallery while Gran has a snooze, she takes a look at some of the pictures, starting with Constable’s The Cornfield. Her comment that she’d love to be a shepherd, receives a surprise response from the shepherd boy in the painting (called Ben in the story) and the two then strike up a friendship …

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and together go in search of alternative occupations. Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed offers a train-driving experience, George Stubbs’ Whistlejack leads to an opportunity for Ben to try his hand as a horseman, albeit not very successfully,
The two then climb into a Gainsborough – The Painter’s Daughters Chasing a Butterfly

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and therein Ben discovers an artist’s life isn’t for him and finally Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire furnishes a brief sea voyage after which Katie returns to her gran and Ben to his sheep.
For anyone visiting the National Gallery with young children or a primary class, this delightful book is an excellent introductory starting point to some of the 18th and 19thC paintings therein.


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London Through Time
Nick Maland and Angela McAllister
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Nick Maland (of the Oliver series fame) has illustrated what is essentially a concertina fold-out time line of London. We join two children, Maisie and Max (and a friendly pigeon) as they time travel from Roman Thameside London, through the plague ridden city of the Black Death, thence to Fleet Street of Tudor London, on to 1666 to view the Great Fire and along a Georgian street with its aromatic, mid 18thC coffee houses. From there we drop in on the city in 1865 where chimneys belch filthy smoke and poor children work for a mere farthing and thence, onto Victorian times where the city is shrouded in a filthy black smog. Flip the fold out and move into Edwardian times with the Votes for Women marches, then in 1914 watch the soldiers leave for the Great War; visit the Roaring Twenties, the Blitz of the World War 2 and join the Coronation parade of 1953 for Elizabeth 11. The swinging sixties are the penultimate destination when boutiques grew up all over London and finally after almost 2000 years, our guides bring us back to the present, to Trafalgar Square and the familiar sights of Big Ben,with the London Eye in the background.
A final page asks readers to spot items shown in fourteen tiny vignettes which will in all likelihood send them back for a second look at this fascinating visual trip through England’s capital city.
Nick Maland’s art work is packed with fine details and superbly executed and Angela McAllister supplies the informative written accompaniment to Max and Maisie’s historic wanderings.

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