Monday, April 8, 2013
What a delicious little morsel I found in my reading pile this week. I simply devoured Bon Appétit! The delicious life of Julia Child (OK, enough of the food puns). Written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland, Bon Appétit! really was a pleasure to read.
As the title indicates it is a biography of the late cookbook author and television personality, Julia Child. All I can say is that they didn't have books like this when I was in school. My ten-year-old self would have been checking this book out of the library every week. Not only is it jam-packed with information - what one looks for in a non-fiction book, but it is told in such a manner that the spunky spirit of Julia literally jumps from the pages.
Some of the reviews I read had criticisms about the graphic novel format of the book and questioned whether children would have difficulty following the layout. In my experience the book is ideally suited for students in grades 4-7. This age group is quite adept at the format and I don't see it as a legitimate concern. In fact, it is this very format that makes the book fresh and appealing to a whole new generation of Julia fans. The gouache artwork is charming and perfect for the intended audience. I think each time I read Bon Appétit! I saw something that I had missed in earlier reads because there are so many details on each page. This is what I loved! I also loved the sprinkling (sorry, another food pun) of French words and phrases, with their translations appended, throughout the book.
I am constantly asked to provide biography recommendations when students are studying this particular genre. I love to put a story of a strong-minded individual, especially a woman, into the hands of a child. Of course there will always be the student who is interested only in the latest celebrity biography from the most recent book fair (are we done with Miley yet?) but there are many children who are looking for something more. I think this particular offering will fit the bill. I have to add that in many of the schools I have worked students have been heavy users of the 641.5 collection (cookbooks). I can see this book as being an additional choice for students who have already exhausted the cookbook selections. A copy of Julia's recipe for crepes is provided in the end material, as well as an excellent bibliography for older readers.
If you are looking for further information about Bon Appétit! or its author Jessie Hartland you can find it at the author's website. She directs readers to the website pen & oink and I found a fascinating interview with her here. Next up for Ms. Hartland is a biography of Steve Jobs. I will certainly be looking forward to this. For the time being, I cannot wait to add Bon Appétit! to my library collection.
Hartland, Jessie. Bon Appétit! The delicious life of Julia Child. New York: Schwartz and Wade (Random House), 2012.
I was directed to Bon Appétit! by Shana Corey, who I talked about here. Thank you for opening my eyes to this find Shana.