Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef” by Alex Prud’homme, illustrated by Sarah Green


Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef” by Alex Prud’homme, illustrated by Sarah Green. Calkins Creek, 2022. 9781635923230

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review): 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

 Genre: Biography

What did you like about the book? Even though she loved to eat, young Julia McWillams did not know how to cook; she didn’t really have any interest in learning how.  Working as a clerk for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, Julia was sent to Ceylon and it was there that she met Paul Child.  They seemed a bit mismatched at first, but bonded over their love of food and travel, and married after the war and returned to America.  Julia tried to learn to cook for her new husband, but her attempts were less than successful.  The couple moved to Paris in 1948 and Julia enjoyed her first meal in France so much that she eventually enrolled in cooking classes at the Cordon Bleu.  Hard work and persistence paid off, as she mastered essential cooking skills and started her own cooking school with two friends.

This charming portrait of Julia Child provides a true sense of her larger-than-life personality, as it traces the course by which she became a world-renowned chef.  It is peppered with lots of quotes from her memoir My Life in France (co-written with the same author, who is Child’s great-nephew) and amusing anecdotes (like the shark repellant she invented while working for the OSS).  Vibrantly colored illustrations bring just the flavor to the descriptive narrative, depicting the food Julia eats and prepares in delicious detail.  Back matter includes an author’s note, a list of Julia Child’s cookbooks and TV shows, and a recipe for French scrambled eggs.

Anything you did not like about the book?  The narrative ends as Julia has just started her school in Paris, and does not go into her career as a cookbook author and television personality (these are thoroughly covered in back matter however).

To whom would you recommend this book? Aspiring young chefs will enjoy learning about the legendary Julia Child.  Well suited for readers in grades 2-5, it’s a great addition to biography collections and useful in women’s history units and library displays, and the back matter makes it a useful resource for a research project.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Biography

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: August 8, 2022

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Alex Prud'homme, Biography, Cooking, Food, Illustrator, Sarah Green, Women's history and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.