The Sisters Saint-Claire written by Carlie Gibson, illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie (Allen & Unwin) HB RRP $19.99
Reviewed by Daniela Andrews
Do you know that unspoken rule about never doing your grocery shopping while you’re hungry? I suggest you apply the same such rule to the reading of this book! Tamsin Ainslie has created a mouth-watering gastronomical feast for the eyes with her delicate, pastel-coloured illustrations of pies, cheeses, baguettes, croissants and crepes. She and first-time author Carlie Gibson bring a French market place to life in this classical tale of a little mouse with big ambitions.
Cecile Saint-Claire’s four big sisters think she’s too small to go to Sunday market with them, but her parents believe she is ready. Each sister has her own interest in the market – Hattie wants to buy cheese, Violet wants to buy fruit, Beatrice wants to buy croissant ingredients and Minette wants to buy butter. Cecile, however, wants to sell her divine gourmet pies. Ladies and gentlemice visit her stall but are not willing to buy pies baked by someone so young. Fortunately, Cecile’s luck changes when a royal visitor comes to the market and samples some of her fare.
This empowering story for readers aged 4–8 years delivers a wonderful message that ‘great things can come from the smallest of us’. Readers will enjoy the author’s gentle rhymes, peppered with mouse humour (of course)!
‘I’ve baked yummy pies, I’m sure I can sell …’
Who could say no to this madam-mouselle?
The hardcover book itself looks rather delicious and would make a lovely gift. It is styled a bit like a quaint little French recipe book, with colourful berries decorating both the front cover and endpapers. (Tamsin Ainslie has illustrated recipe books before, so I’m not surprised!) The title and names of the author and illustrator are gently embossed on the front cover.
Oh and if you do dare read this while you’re hungry, don’t worry – there’s a délicieux recipe for a Croque Monsier included at the back!