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Review | Bon Appétit! By Jessie Hartland

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on April 6, 2012

Bon Appétit! by Jessie Hartland

ISBN-13: 9780375869440
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication date: 5/22/2012
Pages: 48

People who love to eat are always the best people.—Julia Child

Episodes of Julia Child’s television show, The French Chef, can be quite contagious. Viewers are susceptible to contracting a life-long love of food.

Award-winning illustrator and commercial artist Jessie Hartland was not immune to Julia Child’s infectious enthusiasm for crêpes Suzette and boeuf Bourguignon. She grew up watching the PBS series and became an avid foodie.

In May, Schwartz & Wade published Hartland’s wonderfully illustrated biography of the cooking legend, Bon Appétit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child.

Hartland is author and illustrator of several books for children, including How the Sphinx got to the Museum, Clementine in the City and Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors. Her artwork has been featured in marketing campaigns for Levi’s Jeans Co., Target and the National Dairy Council.

Bon Appétit! is destined to be another acclaimed book by Hartland. Whimsical copy and dialogue bubbles format imaginative illustrations setting free her subjects to tell their stories to children (and their adults).

Hartland imagines for readers Julia Child creating her acclaimed cooking show for PBS, writing and editing her bestselling French cookbook and working for the Office of Strategic Services as a spy during World War II.

On the first pages of Bon Appétit! Hartland takes us back to Julia Child’s privileged upbringing in Pasadena, California.

Julia’s mom only makes dinner on cook’s night off and can prepare exactly three dishes: biscuits, codfish balls and Welsh rabbit. What the heck is Welsh rabbit? It’s a mix of beer, cheese, mustard that is cooked together and served over toast. Nothing to do with bunnies. Whew.

The copy in Bon Appétit! is as fresh as the artwork—good research from soup to nuts. Hartland perused old books and photographs and watched many episodes of The French Chef. She even traveled to Paris and Provence to learn more about Julia Child’s time living in France.

We learn from the wildly colorful pages of Bon Appétit! that her first meal in France was lunch at La Couronne in Rouen, which would be an “awakening for Julia.”

The book features translations of “I’m hungry!” in French, German and Norwegian, languages Julia Child learned to negotiate each time her husband Paul received a new State Department assignment.

One of the most endearing pages of Bon Appétit! reveals how Julia Child sought for something meaningful to do with her life. A caption highlights the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school she attended to learn the art of French cooking.

What does Julia really like to do? Eat!

Hartland’s illustrations show how joyfully Julia Child worked (in a class of mostly men) to learn the appropriate techniques for preparing sauces, soups, main courses as well as desserts.

Hartland also highlights important characters in Julia Child’s world, including husband Paul Child, sister Dorothy, friends Simca and Louisette, her cat Minette and the New York editor of her cookbook, Judith Jones.

Bon Appétit! is lively paced and perfectly scripted for reading aloud to younger readers. Go ahead! Hartland almost dares you to read her book with your best Julia Child voice impersonation.

Bon Appétit! by Jessie Hartland is a highly worthwhile read and a wonderfully illustrated biography for children recommended for the 100th anniversary of Julia Child’s birthday in August 2012.

Category: Juvenile Nonfiction, Biography

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