A mere hint of Julia Child’s collaboration with Simone “Simca” Beck informs this look at how following one’s passion can require the fearless enthusiasm of childhood.
Though in reality Julia and Simca met as adults, here Julia is very young when she has a taste of sole meunière and falls in love with French cooking. She and friend Simca are just two young girls who meet on weekends to “shop at the market and gather new ideas and recipes.” They form a sisterly bond and imagine cooking together always. Morstad’s lively art uses Photoshop, ink and gouache, telegraphing a suggestion of the ink-and-watercolor work of mid-20th-century artists like Sasek and Bemelmans. Maclear manages—just—to avoid being directly didactic when, concerned about the sober and dreary adults around them, Julia and Simca prepare “recipes for growing young.” Still, there’s a rich dollop of sentimentality in the way that the two young cooks bring “all sorts of big, busy people” to a remembrance of childhood pleasures. The result is a lighthearted, if slightly obscure allegory about inspiration and its gifts.
Intriguing for an adult familiar with the real Julia and perhaps for the perceptive child who will understand that it’s not about how old you are, or about what you cook, but about what you bring to the table. (Picture book. 4-8)