Clémentine Derodit's et toque! is a new French-language cookbook aimed at children aged 5-8. Derodit wrote and illustrated the book, creating charming character art to make an incredibly appealing book that's also very fun to read (I'm assured by someone who reads French). We sat down with her to find out more.
DA: What was the concept behind the book?
CD: There are many cooking books for childern available, so it was important to try to make something different, both visually and in the way it speaks to children. It had to be attractive to wake the taste of cooking within children.
The main character of the book is a little rabbit called Leonard, with whom children can identify. To the great despair of his mother, he eats only carrot ice cream because he doesn’t know how to cook. In the book she introduces him to four chefs who teach him how to make simple recipes with funny names such as Pirate’s Soup or Tyrannorausus Poo to name just a few. Leonard learn to take pleasure in cooking for himself, his friends and his parents.
DA: How did you go about getting it published?
CD: In 2008, I was contacted by the Italian magazine Stirato, to make an illustrated French recipe for a special issue about cooking. At the end of this same year, Melanie Vincelette, an editor [at publishers] Marchand de feuilles, contacted me after having seen this illustration on my website. She loved the idea of a cute cooking illustration and asked me if I was interested to develop this idea on a book project.
DA: How does your use of design enhance the reader's experience?
CD: I am a trained graphic designer, so the layout and typography are part of my job. I created the entire book -- layout, text, typography and illustrations -- which combined to form an integrated book. This was exactly what I had in mind before I started.
As the kitchen requires precision, and that this book targets a younger audience, it is important that information is easily identifiable and prioritizing. Therefore, the recipes are all based on the same layout for better understanding, with the steps explained in a didactic way. Only colour and chefs distinguish between recipes.
DA: How do your recipes influence the design of the book (or vice versa)?
CD: I think the design influenced choice of recipes most, because I need recipes easy to cook for not have too many stages of preparation and not to discourage trying the recipe, but also funny both in the name and the presentation.
But the recipe influenced the design of the book too, as the recipes are fairly simple, the layout has to be clear. There's a spread for each recipe: presentation and ingredients on the left, preparation on the right.
DA: Any chance of an English version of the book? My French is terrible
CD: We're talking about it, sl I really hope so. Currently the book is only available in Canada, because the editor is there. I would love so much to see my book in several languages, but it depends on the editor' choice. If an English editor is interested in a translation of the book to distribute it in other countries, he’s more than welcome to contact me or my editor.