Allow me to share with you today wonderful stories of two amazing individuals who were all about living their dreams. Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin and Jessie Hartland’s Bon Appétit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child are a celebration of life and one’s uniqueness. It’s nice to see how picturebooks bridge the gap between children and grown-ups by introducing young readers to people who have inspired others—and still do, to this day.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin
Written by: Jen Bryant
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
Book borrowed from the Sumter library.
I learned about Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s collaborative work on the life of Horace Pippin after visiting fellow book bloggers’ posts several weeks ago for It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin was one of the popular titles featured that week, and it also happened to be nominated for the 2013 CYBILS that was concluded last month. Although the book did not make it to the finals, it did end up in my hands last week. Win!
A Splash of Red tells the story of self-taught painter Horace Pippin. Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Horace developed a passion for drawing. During the day, Horace would put his hands to work and help his family with chores and babysitting duties. At night, if he got lucky finding a piece of paper, Horace would take a piece of charcoal and start drawing. He drew like there was no tomorrow. He enjoyed drawing from memory, literally and figuratively, as he brought every day activities and encounters alive on his piece of paper.
Horace joined the army when the first World War shook the nation. He was digging deep trenches in France. When he climbed to the top of the trench one day, Horace got hit by a bullet in his right shoulder. It was a pivotal moment in Horace’s life. His injury healed but he could not move or lift his right arm the way he used to. For a while, he could not draw.
The beauty of this book lies not only from Jen Bryant’s heartwarming storytelling and Melissa Sweet’s beguiling illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, and collage. Beyond the story of a self-taught painter is the power of the human spirit. Horace had developed a passion for something that he knew he could not deprive himself—and others—of. He felt the tug of that passion so he told his heart again, after several years, “to go ahead.” How he had overcome his struggles, you would have to find out. Interestingly, as written in the historical note at the end of the book, Horace Pippin did not complete his first oil painting until he was more than forty years old! Yet, each work is a labor of love because he painted exactly the way he saw it.
Bon Appétit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child
Written and Illustrated by: Jessie Hartland
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books
Book prize won by Gathering Books.
Well, well, well. Who else would be joining us today but America’s sweetheart who mastered the art of French cooking! I must admit, I’m not a kitchen expert. I wouldn’t even pretend to know about Julia Child before reading this book. I did, however, fall in love with her jovial personality thanks to Meryl Streep’s brilliant performance in the movie Julie & Julia (2009).
A Junior Library Guild selection, Jessie Hartland’s Bon Appétit: The Delicious Life of Julia Child is as outlandish and delightful as Julia Child herself. It chronicles the life of America’s beloved cook, from the time she threw mud pies at cars to the time she gave cooking demos on TV. I decided to revisit the book when I was looking for titles for our theme, Rainbow Colors of Diversity, and read Julia’s story during National Book Day last week. Oh, it was such a wonderful treat!
Jessie Hartland’s narrative began in Pasadena, California and introduced readers to the tomboyish nature of Julia Child when she was growing up. She was a very tall figure who liked to pull pranks even during her college days. Julia tried working for Newsweek Magazine—flunked her typing test. She applied at a furniture store to write advertising copy—kind of boring. She found a job at Fashion Magazine—not interesting enough.
Like Horace Pippin, Julia Child also joined the armed forces (during World War II, this time). She worked for the OSS spy agency which Julia liked to call “Oh So Secret.” It was through the agency that Julia met her future husband, Paul Child. If there was one thing that remained throughout all those years, it was Julia’s love for food! She believed that people who love to eat are always the best people. It was her passion for eating that pushed Julia past her limits.
The overall appeal of Bon Appétit is sure to capture the hearts of many. I learned a lot about Julia Child’s life in this book. The quirky text and illustrations of Jessie Hartland reminded me of the works of Oliver Jeffers. I admire her for going above and beyond in researching details in the book by traveling to the Parisian and French countryside. Familiar scenes from Julie & Julia flashed before my eyes as I read Julia’s adventures and struggles in the field of cooking.
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook—try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.”
— Julia Child
Julia Child is a figure of Womanity, and her perseverance and positive attitude not only helped her become successful in life but also made her dreams come true. She had her share of rejection but she never lost sight of what mattered to her. Her eccentric but bubbly personality was one of the reasons why she became loved by millions. She will always be an inspiration.
Reading Challenge Update: 43, 44 (25)
*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***