Julia Child: An Extraordinary Life in Words and Pictures
DuoPress 2015 160 pages Ages 8-13
Julia Child knew how to have fun, and she also knew how to whip up a delightful meal. After traveling around the world working for the U.S. government, Julia found her calling in the kitchen and devoted her life to learning, perfecting, and sharing the art of French cuisine. This delicious, illustrated middle-grade biography is a portrait of the remarkable woman, author, and TV personality who captured our hearts with her sparkling personality. “Bon appétit!”
“Full of Julia’s trademark gusto, this book serves up an excellent introduction to the life of this famed chef.” – School Library Journal
Amie: What inspired you to write a book about Julia Child?
Erin: This book started with the idea for its structure. The publisher had the great idea to adapt the visual format of Brian Selznick’s amazing The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007) to a biography, depicting major moments in the subject’s life in visual sequences. It’s an amazing concept. We brainstormed possible subjects, and I suggested Gordon Ramsay because my family loves Master Chef, Jr. After discussing it a bit, we thought, “Why not the television cook who started it all?” Voilà–Julia it was!
Amie: How do you think this will appeal to middle-grade writers and readers? What influence do you think it will have?
Erin: For writers, I hope it sparks an interest in writing biographies. There are lots of similarities, I think, between fiction and biography. In both, you’re trying to show the arc of a person’s experience, how she grows and changes, the details of her life that affect those changes. The main difference with a biography, of course, is that you find those details in your research. As a fiction writer, I struggle with plot, so it was great to not have to come up with the reasons behind her actions, like why she moved to France, for example. The reason was there.
For readers, my hope is that kids read this book and realize they don’t have to be an expert at something from a young age to be successful at it as an adult. Of course, lots of kids do have talents and interests that are evident early in their lives, and that’s great. But many are still figuring out what they like to do, and that’s okay, too. Julia is a wonderful example of someone who wasn’t sure what she wanted to do or be. She didn’t know until she was almost 40! And then she went on to become one of the very best.
Amie: If you could have a conversation with Julia Child, what would you ask her? If you could have her make you any meal, what would it be?
Erin: Oh, wow. I might be too star-struck to say anything at all. But I’d have to get over that and seize the moment. I’d ask her how she was able to maintain her friendship with Simca (her co-author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking) after deciding she couldn’t work with her anymore. I’d also ask how she maintained her energy into her older adulthood, but she’d probably just find that question annoying.
As for a meal, I’d eat anything she made. But I’d love to have her quennelles de broche, a labor-intensive dish that involves working pike through a fine sieve, grinding the bones and everything into a cream that you batter and poach. It was one of the first dishes she made Paul after starting Le Cordon Bleu, and it blew him away.
Amie: Time now for the all important question…or questions as it is! Jello or pudding? Snakes or spiders? Lakes and mountains or oceans and sandy beaches?
Erin: Pudding (increased chance of chocolate, as opposed to Jello.) Snakes. And I grew up on the Eastern Shore, so I have to go with oceans and beaches.
Amie: Thanks for being here, Erin! We’re excited for your new book and wish you tons of success.
In honor of Julia Child’s birthday, we’re giving away one copy of Erin’s book! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below to enter.
Erin Hagar writes fiction and nonfiction for children and teens. After several years working in curriculum and instruction for colleges and universities, she earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and now lives in Baltimore with her husband, two children, and a few too many pets.