Review: Minette’s Feast by Susanna Reich

minettes feast

Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Amy Bates

Minette was most likely the luckiest cat in the world, since she was owned by Julia Child.  Adopted by Julia Child and her husband during their time in Paris, she was just as discerning about her food as her owner was.  She spurned canned food, eating only fresh mice and bird.  Julia would bring home marvelous fish heads just for Minette and also give her leftovers from her cooking.  Still, Minette preferred her own hunted food.  Julia began to cook more and more, taking classes as Le Cordon Bleu.  Minette honed her own hunting skills at the same time, practicing on her toys.  It would take something very special to lure Minette away from the mice.  But then again, her owner was Julia Child who was certainly up to that challenge.

Taking on a famous cook and personality through her finicky cat is a wonderful approach.  We get to see a younger Julia Child, figuring out how to cook French food in her own small kitchen.  We are there to see her arrive in Paris, find her footing in the culture, and then through her learning process until her cooking inspires even her cat to turn away from mice.  It’s a genuine way to approach the subject that has a real child-appeal.

Bates’ illustrations are done in pencil and watercolor.  There is a seriousness and also a playfulness in her illustrations that remind me of Julia herself.  The lanky woman is shown at her full height throughout the book as she is celebrated in both image and text.  Minette appears early in the book, long before Julia adopts her.  It’s a nice touch for sharp-eyed children.

A warm and energetic glimpse of Julia Child that celebrates her on the year of her 100th birthday.  Simply delicious!  Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.