Great picture books have either a wonderful story and illustrations, or a profound message. The very best picture books manage to do both and Grace and Katie falls easily into this category.
Grace and Katie are sisters with totally different perspectives on art. While Grace enjoys using straight lines and order, Katie prefers colour and creativity. When they both decide to draw a picture of their home and the local park, the results are very different. The final results are not quite as satisfying as they would like. By sharing their skills and working together they create an artwork which combines accuracy with creativity.
Susanne Merritt is a passionate advocate for children’s literacy and as a Mum of 3 she has plenty of experience with the differences between siblings. Combined with the bright illustrations and detail of Liz Anelli, this book is a treasure.
I teach tolerance and difference to a Year 11 class, and asked if they would like me to read to them. They willingly sat on the mat as I shared Grace and Katie. The following discussion was wonderful as they picked up on the visual clues in the pictures. We talked about stereotyping and working with others. One girl explained that it could have been about her own experience as she was the creative one with a very orderly sister. This led to a sharing about gender stereotypes and the importance of being ourselves.
As a teacher, I see this as a great resource for starting discussions from pre-school level up. It is also a really lovely book to read and enjoy for the satisfying story, the wonderful pictures and the happy ending.
Reviewed by Kathy Watson
Grace and Katie
by Suzanne Merritt and Liz Anelli
Published by EK Books