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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Julia, Child, words by Kyo Maclear and pictures by Julie Morstad. Tundra Books, 2014. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"As they ate, the grown-ups began to argue. It seemed they were very hungry. Too hungry. They were hungry for the fun they had forgotten and the games they no longer played. They grabbed the food up all at once, fearful that it would not last. "Just look at them," said Julia. "Where did we go wrong?"

A lovely invitation begins this new book:

"You are cordially invited to this tale for all ages about a child named Julia. While the story contains no true knowledge of (the real) Julia Child and should be taken with a grain of salt and perhaps even a generous pat of butter, we hope that you will find something here to savor."

Savor it, I do. I am a big fan of Kyo Maclear's work and am delighted to share this new story with you. It is a celebration of good food, friendship, being young, enjoying life to its fullest, and loving your days spent doing what you happily do. I think (from the little I know about the real Julia Child) that she would approve its telling wholeheartedly. Bon appetit!

As a small child, this Julia falls in love with French food. Cooking it becomes her passion, and she shares that feeling with her friend Simca. Together they work to create deliciousness, not always with success. They do not give up. Lessons help, and persistence.

Their dream is to grow old, always enjoying being together and preparing delicious food. They are quick to notice that the adults around them don't take the same joy from life that they do. They set about changing that. They set themselves the task of finding foods that will make the adults they encounter feel young again.

"They would make recipes for growing young."

Hard work, and a strong desire to make life better through food results in their attracting many to their table. As the visitors eat, they realize that their hunger is not just about food. Chaos ensues. A new recipe is needed. Will it work?

As she did in Virginia Wolf (Kids Can Press, 2012), Ms. Maclear loosely bases this newest book on a familiar name. Channeling Julia Child's obvious love of life and French cooking, she tells a story about adults whose lives become so focused on growing up and being successful that they forget there is more to it than that. It is a reminder to each of us that 'mastering the art of childhood' can be a worthy and wondrous thing!

Julie Morstad's gouache, ink and Photoshop artwork perfectly matches the text. Her detailed spreads concentrate our attention on the relationship between the two girls and their love for food, and sharing experiences. Using color for everything childlike including the food, and black and white for the adults, she is able to accurately portray the feelings that are so elegantly expressed in this story of the joy to be found in the wonder of being childlike.

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