Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child

When I saw that this week’s Nonfiction Monday was going to be hosted at Perogies & Gyoza, I knew just which book I was going to choose. Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by author and illustrator Jessie Hartland seems an obvious choice for a blog named after food. 🙂

This book has been getting quite a bit of buzz in the children’s book community, including a review by The New York Times. Last week Jeanne reviewed it at True Tales and a Cherry on Top.

The author has created a book that is as individual, wacky, and yet endearing, as Julia Child was herself. Although The New York Times review suggests that children will not know who Julia Child is, that is why the book is important. Children don’t know who George Washington is either until they are introduced to him.

I will admit, however, that the hand-lettered text and the cursive are going to make reading the book difficult for struggling young readers. Hopefully they will find a caring adult to read it to them.

Bon Appétit! is inspiring in many ways and can be used as a jumping off point for hands-on learning.

Activity 1. French Food

J’ai faim aussi!”

That is what children may say after reading about Julia Child. They are going to be interested in eating French food and probably French cooking, too. The book has a recipe for crepes for children to make at the end, but there are many other ways to introduce French cuisine, as well.

Tomato Tartine

A tartine is an open-faced sandwich. What says “France” more than a crusty loaf of bread and some French cheese?

You will need the following:

  • Loaf of French bread
  • Good quality tomato
  • A mild French cheese, such as brie or munster (optional)
  • Ground pepper or pinch of chopped basil

You may either prepare this yourself, or have the children prepare it if they are old enough to handle cutting implements. Slice the bread and toast it. Slice the tomato and the cheese. Layer the cheese on the warm bread and top with the tomato slices. Grind some pepper or add a pinch of chopped basil. Serve as an open-faced sandwich.

Find some more delightful ideas and recipes, like these from French Kids Eat Everything, on the Internet. Can truffles and escargot be next? 🙂

Activity 2. Still Life Art:  La Vase Bleu (The Blue Vase) by Paul Cézanne

Although the illustrations in Jessie Hartland’s book are anything but still, this category of art seems appropriate for drawing or painting food and items around the kitchen.

Obtain a print of the painting or view The Blue Vase at The Artchive and discuss the artist and his work. Explain how Cézanne was French and also went to Paris to study like Julia Child did. Have the children draw/paint a still life with age-appropriate directions about drawing shapes and using shading techniques.

Use this time-lapse video of a person creating a still life bowl of cherries for inspiration.

Activity 3. Writing

Bon Appétit! reveals a great deal about the process of writing a book and getting it published. Discuss all the steps Julia Child went through to get her book published and the marketing she did afterward. It is inspiring how she and her co-author continued on in the face of multiple rejections.

Create a visual organization chart summarizing the events and relate them to other authors’ journeys to print.

Writing prompt:  If you could write a book, what would you want to write about and why?

Activity 4. Learning about World Languages

Exposure to world languages is important for children in so many ways. When is the last time you read a children’s book that was filled with French phrases and vocabulary like this one? In fact, the final endpapers of the book are all the French words for the items identified in English in the front endpapers.

Make a list of all the French words and phrases used in the books. Draw a “pictionary” like the back endpapers to help remember and reinforce vocabulary. Find and explore more books with French vocabulary to add to the list.

Discuss how important learning French was for Julia and how it changed her life. The book also mentions that she had to study very hard and it took her four years to become fluent.

Click on the icon for a (slowly growing) list of more language books.

Perhaps reading Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by author and illustrator Jessie Hartland may be life-changing as well.

Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (May 22, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375869441
ISBN-13: 978-0375869440

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s round-up is at Perogies & Gyoza.