Katie’s Picture Show, the first of Mayhew’s Katie books, was published more than 20 years ago. Based on memories of childhood outings with his sister, and of his own longing to become an artist, they feature an enthusiastic child who learns about art and culture by entering paintings and exploring their worlds from the inside.
In more recent books, Katie has left the gallery and begun to explore the wider world. Katie in Scotland follows the success of Katie in London and shares its theme of a celebratory tour with Grandma and little brother Jack. This time the role of the magical guide played by a Trafalgar Square lion in the earlier book is assumed by the Loch Ness monster herself. They travel on a steam train from the Highlands to Glasgow, calling in at the magnificent Kelvingrove museum before travelling to Edinburgh to visit Holyrood, the Royal Mile and Greyfriars Bobby, before putting on a triumphant show at the Festival.
The simply written narrative is uniformly jovial, and the cheerful line and wash half-, full- and double-page illustrations show a Scotland oddly bereft of its dreichness and dreck. They do, however, bring out its wilderness and wet beautifully, as well as its architectural splendours. Mayhew’s mission is to help children appreciate and enjoy culture and the world at large, and this book promises to be a worthy contribution to that end; it has also helped to remind at least one adult resident of Scotland to count his blessings.