I don’t know about you, but since Christmas we’ve been seeing a lot of grey. Grey clouds, grey sleet, grey sky, grey rain. I’m beginning to get a bit itchy now for some splashes of colour. Some early crocuses would be nice, or even just some sunshine!
So I’m having to get my colour fix another way, and one source of rainbow delight this last couple of weeks has been Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar.
Katie is feeling grey. Finding inspiration from a beautiful picture on her wall of birds with colourful plummage she sets about trying to cheer herself up. First she puts on her most colourful clothes, and although that helps she doesn’t yet feel quite right. So, Katie then paints herself – her face, her arms, her fingers, and whilst the paint is drying magic occurs.
With a fizz and a flutter Katie is ably to fly into the picture on her wall and spends the rest of the day living in colour, making friends with the cheerful, exotic birds around her, having a great deal of fun right up until it is time to return home for her bedtime bath.
Both girls (and me!) love this book. The illustrations are a tonic – Dunbar’s use of colour is most definitely what the doctor ordered for us. Stars and sparkles fizz over the pages and the birds’ feathers come in a riot of colours. Katie’s imagination and can-do attitude, as well as her body language and fashion choices remind me somewhat of Lola (as in Charlie and Lola) – a great little hero to identify with. Although a short read, it carries a great message worth reminding ourselves of sometimes – with a bit of creativity we can do a lot to help cheer ourselves up! No more complaining about the weather and the cold then for me
As soon as we’d read the book for the first time, M and I both wanted to do exactly as Katie had done – find our best, brightest, cheeriest clothes and fly away into a magical place. So the first thing we did was to recreate a picture to hang on our kitchen wall in hommage to Katie’s picture. I cut out bird shapes from card and “feathers” from multi coloured tissue paper and we all sat down as a family to stick, glue, and decorate our birds.
The final result has certainly brightened up our kitchen!
One friend saw this yesterday and commented “Hmm, not a lot of parental involvement there, then!” – but that was missing the point entirely I think – this was a great project that got all four of us sat together around the table, pottering away on our birds, helping each other, chatting, working together. The process of making the picture was more important than the final result, but of course I can’t capture that in any way.
Anyway, once we had our picture ready to jump into, next we had to make ourselves some wings. For each girl I took two strips of card about 5 cm wide and as long as the distance from armpit to wrist for each girl. I folded the card over and then glued into the crease lots of large tissue paper feathers (each about 20 cm long).
When all the feathers were in place I folded over the top piece of card and stapled it down. As soon as the glue was dry I used safety pins to attach the wings to my own little birds, and then we starting flying about!
We definitely had a good time, and felt much brighter and happier for a dash of colour, a flight of fancy and a good dance.
Flyaway Katie: *** (3 stars)
We flew and danced to:
There are so many more great projects out there that involve lots of colour. Here are two that we’re definitely going to try:
When it stops being so grey and temperatures warm up enough for us to take some clothes off in the garden I’d like to try body painting – here’s a lovely post from The Artful Parent about her experience of this fun sounding activity.