Friday, October 5, 2012

Minette's Feast

Minette's Feast by Susanna Reich tells the tale of Julia Child's discovery of a love of cooking and her journey to share that love with the world through the eyes of her cat, Minette.  Throughout the story, Minette turns her nose up at Julia's French cuisine, preferring mice and birds instead.

I love Minette's full name: Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child

I enjoy the illustration that accompanies the words: "They nibbled croissants in cafes where cats curled on chairs."  It is a picture of Julia and Paul leaned in close, foreheads touching lovingly sharing a meal and gazing lovingly in each other's eyes.  "You are the butter to my bread," Paul told Julia.

The alliteration is fitting and lyrical: croissants, cafes, cats, curled; baguettes, bistros, birds.

In one illustration, movement and the hustle and bustle of a kitchen is portrayed with four Julias at each task and alliteration once again accompanies a fitting picture.  "She baked and blanched, blended and boiled, drained and dried, dusted and fried.  She floured and flipped, pitted and plucked, rinsed and roasted, sizzled and skimmed.  And when she wasn't trimming, toasting, or topping, she was washing, whipping, and whisking."  LOVE IT

Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child was a very lucky cat, perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris."

I think Amy Bates' illustrations complement Susanna Reich's text seamlessly.  I found myself searching each picture for details to open up the story more.  And...there was always a mouse for Minette.

The Afterword was a necessary inclusion for me as the story itself is lovely, and made me want to learn more about Julia.  I haven't seen the recent movie "Julie and Julia"...or is it "Julia and Julie"?  Either way, I feel I have a lot to learn.  Especially after reading the Afterword.

Did you know:

  • Julia Child was too tall to join the Women's Army Corp or the Navy WAVES?
  • She worked for the Office of Strategic Service (think CIA before CIA)?
  • As part of the Office of Strategic Service she was posted to Ceylong (Sri Lanka) and then China?
  • Julia's husband Paul continued with the US Foreign Services and that's how they found themselves in Paris?
Suffice it to say, I did not, and the Afterword and the above information made the subject of Julia Child suddenly seem MUCH more interesting to me.  I grew up in a home without cable, so PBS got a good bit of playtime and I recall Julia Child.  No, I recall Julia Child's voice.  But I would have never guessed she was SUCH an interesting person beyond her love of cooking and food.  I'm glad that Susanna Reich and Amy Bates teamed to make such a lovely picture book and I think the idea to tell her story from Minette's point of view was both clever and unique.  Well done!  Although I am not a cat lover, I do love this book.

Minette's Feast
ISBN: 978-1-4197-0177-1
Published 2012 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
I borrowed this copy from my public library to read and review it.
I plan to add this book to our school library collection.

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