Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew is part of a wonderful series of Katie books where Katie jumps in and out of paintings having adventures with the subjects and sometimes bringing them to her world with mixed and amusing results.
In Katie and the Mona Lisa, Katie wonders what is making the Mona Lisa smile. To her surprise, the Mona Lisa invites her into the picture to find out. What she discovers is that the Mona Lisa is very lonely after sitting by herself for hundreds of years, so Katie decides to take her to visit some of the other paintings in the museum. In search of adventure, they distract St. George from slaying a dragon in a painting by Raphael, gather oranges and make a mess in a Botticelli, tour Venice with a Lion in a Carpaccio, and then crash back into the museum to find some very annoyed subjects of the paintings they’ve left. Fortunately, the Angel from An Angel with a Lute steps out of his painting and manages to calm things down, and by the end of the story Mona Lisa has regained her smile.
The Katie books encourage readers to think about paintings as more than something that just hangs on the wall. My children love making up stories and paintings give them a jumping off point and an entertaining afternoon in a museum. The paintings used in the story are located at the Louvre, the National Gallery of Art, the Palazzo Ducale, the National Gallery, and the Uffizi Gallery, giving you a starting point in several cities. Next time you tour a museum, ask your child which subjects they would introduce to each other and what would happen next!