Susanna Reich’s new book “Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat” is a beautifully illustrated, charming story about Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child — “a very lucky cat, perhaps the luckiest cat in all of Paris.” Reich took the details of Minette’s life from Julia’s autobiography and letters as inspiration for the story. None of the dialogue between Julia and her husband was made up.
When Julia Child and her husband Paul lived in Paris, they adopted a cat and called her Minette. This picture book tells the story of Julia’s cooking adventures through the eyes of Minette. Minette, who was given table scraps and leftovers of food cooked by the not-yet-famous Julia Child, preferred mouse and bird.
That is something I definitely appreciated about this story. Cats eat mice and birds (and chipmunks, rabbits and other small creatures they can capture). They are natural carnivores, but in our culture where cats are frequently kept inside for their safety and because of what they can do to small animals outside, this hunting tradition is not something adults always make plain to children. Reich makes it plain, with no judgment or sensationalism. I like children’s books that are honest with children.
Along with Minette’s culinary preferences, children will also discover how Julia Child learned to cook during her years in Paris, how she was introduced to the sights and smells of a kitchen, and how she learned a few French words along the way. There is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the story for the French words that are used.
I found "Minette's Feast" to be as its subtitle suggests, "delicious," and I plan on passing my review copy on to family friends with young children who will be delighted in the story of a well-fed cat and the woman who loved to feed her.