Bon Appetit: the delicious life of Julia Childs

Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by J. Hartland

Hartland, Jessie. Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. Print.

Master chef and author Julia Child (1912–2004) was adored by audiences from the moment she first starred in her own television cooking show in 1963. It was an immediate success because people were captivated by Child’s warm, high-spirited personality and her enthusiasm for good food and wine. Indeed, she regularly toasted viewers with a glass of wine and her trademark “Bon appétit!” in her distinctive voice. Young readers are introduced to Child in this delightful picture book biography that is a feast for the eyes. It offers a surprisingly thorough account of her life, and includes scenes from her early childhood in Pasadena, California, her brief career with an American spy agency, and her struggle to publish the now famous “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, to name but a few of the highlights. In one especially amusing spread, readers are shown how to make chicken galantine in 32 numbered panels, which make clear that Child encouraged her fans to try new foods and cooking techniques.

Author-illustrator Jessie Hartland uses simple cartoons and a handwritten typeface to tell the story, and it is immediately apparent from the opening pages that the book is jam-packed with artwork and text, but the overall effect is one of considerable charm and animation. The endpapers are crammed with line drawings of kitchen tools, ingredients, and objects from Child’s life, which have English and French labels for readers who want to learn some essential vocabulary in both languages. For readers who want to learn more about Child, the book includes a useful bibliography, brief epilogue, and web links that show Child’s actual kitchen from her house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the restaurant where she had her first meal in France. This adorable publication will appeal to foodies of all ages.

Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars    
Reviewer: Robert Desmarais

Robert Desmarais is Head of Special Collections at the University of Alberta and Managing Editor of The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature. A graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies, with a Book History and Print Culture designation, he also has university degrees in English literature and publishing. He has been collecting and enjoying children’s books for as long as he can remember.