In Julia, Child, writer Kyo Maclear and illustrator Julie Morstad bring us a story “loosely inspired by the life and spirit of the very real Julia Child.” Julia and Simca love shopping in the French marketplace and inventing recipes. They may have their spats but they always agree on three things: some friends are like sisters, you can never use too much butter, and it is best to be a child FOREVER. Noticing the “wary, worried, hustled and hurried” grown-ups about them, the wonder-filled duo set out to create the perfect mix of ingredients for growing young – a state they deem more sensible. What they discover, however, is that what grown-ups really need is to be reminded of the “joie de vivre” they still have deep inside.
Choosing amongst ingredients like purple “wonder” butterflies and yellow “extract of slow down” flowers, the girls practice their culinary skills. Maclear’s lyrical text imbues the rich sophistication many would ascribe to French culture. Words like marvelous, savory, and morsel, and baking terms like pinch, dash, and compote make it a delicious read-aloud. Kids will love Morstad’s ink drawings, coloured only in the wonder-filled places with gouache paint, and the visual feast of kitchen implements and ingredients on each page.
While Julia, Child celebrates the world of children, it may just leave its greatest impression on the adult reader who has slowed down to enjoy it with a child, and who will likely seek out more “sensible” moments just like it in the near future.
Jen Bailey teaches in the Professional Writing Program at Algonquin College, Ottawa. She holds an MFA in Writing from VCFA, and writes for children and young adults.
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