Orchard Books

Happy birthday, Katie!

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It is 30 years since James Mayhew’s wonderful book, ‘Katie’s Picture Show’ was first published. The perfect introduction to five famous paintings, the book follows Katie as she visits an art gallery with her grandmother. Exhausted by having been spun round in the revolving doors by her granddaughter, Grandma stops in the entrance for a rest whilst Katie sets off to explore. Curious and mischievous, Katie finds she can climb into various works of art and explore them, her bright red coat standing out in each one.

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This book- and Katie’s subsequent adventures- is a wonderful starting point for giving children the confidence to explore art and bringing pictures to life. To the teacher, they are invaluable, but I also enjoyed sharing them with my son when he was little. He was so excited when we found pictures that he recognised from the story on our visits to art galleries.

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Katie has since gone on to enjoy other adventures exploring more fabulous works of art. Grandma continues to enjoy a little snooze whilst Katie discovers the joys of a whole host of pictures. Each of these books offers endless possibilities for fun in the classroom - or at home. Notes are included in each book about the paintings she explores and the artists who created them, and there is a teaching pack available with ideas for using each title (here). Katie also has some other adventures with dinosaurs when she visits the Natural History Museum and exploring London and Scotland.

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We have great plans for celebrating Katie’s birthday next term which include creating large scale copies of some of the pictures in which she has her adventures and then imagining adventures of our own set there as well as finding out about the artists behind them. As Katie and her Grandma also enjoy the occasional sweet treat, we have some tenuously related cooking activities planned too!

Happy birthday, Katie- we look forward to seeing which pictures you visit next- and thank you, Mr Mayhew, for writing such lovely books!

Katie’s Picture Show James Mayhew

Orchard Books ISBN: 978-1408332405

Wisp- A Story of Hope

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Idris is a refugee child, living in a world of shadows and barriers. This is the only life he knows. One day, the Wisp arrives on the evening wind, unnoticed by everyone, but Idris. For those who hold it, the Wisp evokes memories, reawakening hope and joy. For Idris who has known nothing but life in this camp, there are no memories to stir, yet he realises that for him it offers promise of change, a promise for the future.

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Breathtakingly beautiful, ‘The Wisp’ is an extraordinary picture book. Hope is at the heart of the story; whatever the wisp might be- a message, a story, a secret, protest, solidarity- it offers the dream of a better future as well as the joy of memories, the importance of preserving what makes each person individual.

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Full of imagery, the language used throughout the book is as stunning as the illustrations.

A swelling sea of rememberings twirled on the air and shimmered in the breeze

Idris tasted the pull of the moonlight and explored the soft scent of new knowings.

The story challenges the reader to think about refugees as real people who have past lives and hopes for the future. It challenges them to think of the darkness of the ‘small, small world’ refugees live in. It challenges them to see the individual.

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The illustrations are so evocative, cleverly using colour to mirror the mood of the story and those in it. The whole book is simply captivating and offers plenty of opportunity for discussions about refugees and hope for change.

Simply stunning.

Wisp: A Story of Hope Zana Fraillon, illustrated by Grahame Baker- Smith

Hachette ISBN: 978- 1408350119

A T-Wit for a T-Woo

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There once lived an owl who lived in a wood,

Who wanted to do what every owl should.

He would fly each night through the wood he loved,

And quietly gaze at the stars up above.

Twoo feels that something is missing. He only has half of his song and so decides to search far-and-wide on a quest to it. But wherever he looks, the other animals tell him they have only heard his ‘T-Woo!’ When help is really needed, Twoo finds a true friend and the other half of his song.

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A perfect bedtime story, ‘A T-Wit for a T-Woo’ is told in rhyming text, with gentle humour and fabulous illustrations. Armed with words of advice from his father- ‘If you try your best son, things will turn out okay’- Twoo bravely sets off, determined to find what he is seeking.

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The story uses rich language, perfect for discussing- ‘forlorn’, ‘dappled’, for example- which adds to the joy of reading it aloud. Twoo’s bravery at continuing on his quest when faced with the comments and behaviour of the other animals show how important self belief and determination are to succeeding.

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Layn Marlow’s illustrations are a real delight. Beautifully atmospheric, they capture the wonders of the woodland setting and the creatures that live there. Little T-Woo’s face is so expressive as he experiences a whole range of emotions, from fear to hurt to joy. The story also offers the opportunity to find out more about tawny owls, their habitats and their calls.

This is a lovely, gentle story, perfect for sharing again and again.

A T-Wit for a T-Woo Charlie Farley, illustrated by Layn Marlow.

Orchard Books ISBN: 978- 1408346495