This seems to be the year of Julia Child and her cats. Since I didn’t grow up in the United States and didn’t watch The French Chef on tv, my introduction to Julia Child came via the 2009 movie Julia & Julia, which I absolutely adored. When I came across mention of a book about one of Julia Child’s cats, a tortoiseshell cat no less, I had to know more.
Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat is a beautifully illustrated book aimed at children ages 3 and up. I must still be a child at heart, because I was utterly charmed by this book.
The story takes place in Paris, France, where Julia and her husband Paul lived in the late 1940’s. They couldn’t have children, and when Minette, their first cat, showed up on their doorstep, Julia remarked “our domestic circle is complete.” Pulling from Julia’s and Paul’s letters as well as Julia’s biographies, Minette’s Feast tells the story of how Minette came to live and eat with the Childs in Paris.
“Minette is the luckiest cat in Paris. Day and night she could smell the delicious smells of mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, cheese souffles, and duck pates, wafting from the pots and pans of her owner, Julia Child…”
The book’s text is complimented by Amy Bates’ illustrations that are reminiscent of a cross between Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell. I lingered over each page and savored the detail Bates put into everything from Minette’s whiskers to Julia Child’s often disheveled look. Recalling Julia Child’s culinary beginnings, Reich has the reader believe that Julia’s training at the famous Cordon Bleu culinary institute was simply a quest to get her tortie interested in eating something other than mice.
This playfully charming book is sure to delight not just children, but cat lovers, food lovers, Julia Child fans and Francophiles.
I found this photo of the real Minette, presumably taken by Paul Childs, on a website featuring photos of Julia Child’s kitchen.
Susanna Reich is an award-winning author of many fiction and nonfiction books. She lives in Ossining, New York. To learn more about her, please visit http://www.susannareich.com. Amy Bates is the illustrator of The Dog Who Belonged to No One and Bear in the Air. She splits her time between the United States and Tokyo.
This book was sent to me by the publisher. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.