Polly Dunbar enthusiastically discussed her first picture book: “Flyaway Katie is about the ability we all have to change our mood and make ourselves feel happier. All you need is a bit of creativity and a lick of Paint!”
Katie is having a dull, gray day. Katie looks at a picture hanging on her wall and thinks it looks much more interesting than her own reality. To brighten her day, Katie dresses herself up in colourful clothing and paints herself with colourful paint.
Katie stood still so the paint could dry, and that’s when she felt…
Katie flew into the picture!
Dunbar is clever in that the character is literally interacting with the illustrations – also by Dunbar – by adding colour. Katie’s day is literally and metaphorically gray, to start. Katie brightens her day by adding colourful clothes and paint to her previously all white frame. As Katie paints the book with colour the illustrations focus on each part of her body and give the reader different angles of the goings on, a nice touch.
Unfortunately, Dunbar abruptly introduces the birds and then devotes almost no description to Katie’s time spent inside the picture. There are a few full page illustrations of Katie’s afternoon with the colourful birds before she flies back home for a bath but that’s about it. The theme of birds lacks basis and structure altogether. Other than a brief glimpse of Katie looking at a picture of birds on the wall, there is no precedent for flight or the full page spreads of birds that come later. Once Katie leaves the painting, the bird theme dissipates again. The text and illustrations lack the continuity needed to maintain well rounded symbolism and coherent structure.
To be fair, Dunbar’s self proclaimed focus is on the realistic potential to change your own mood and not the fantastical aspect of Katie’s journey. Personally, I’d rather focus on the potential adventures to be had when one finds oneself inside of a painting.
While cute, Flyaway Katie fails to live up to its suggested vibrance. Dunbar’s concept is sound but put into practice the idea falls flat. This is a dull book with colours. Don’t bother reading.