‘Masterful’ Empty Fridge wins Bologna award

Empty Fridge 9780987109934Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge has been announced as an award winner at this week’s annual Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

The picture book with culinary flavour won the inaugural Books&Seeds Award. This award is devoted to books dealing with subjects such as agriculture, organic farming, biodiversity, food, hunger, abundance, nutrition, safety and cooking.

Here’s what the award jury, chaired by Italian writer Susanna Tamaro, said of the book:

This book is as high and tall as a building, like so many of the apartment blocks in the city. The book’s main character is a tenant who lives down in the cellar and finds a solution to solve the problem. He goes upstairs following a logical sequence and knocks on everyone’s doors, offering food together with a cooking project. Then a large round table and a huge cake in the oven suddenly colour the pages. Colour and conviviality stream out of the building flowing into other apartment blocks. Soon there is not enough space so people go out into the street and get lost in a community feasting in a street party. But was it all a dream? Or is the dream about to come true?

The book masterfully narrates the value of food in social exchange, a positive story flanking the trend to build communities and live in a community. Its analytical description of the characters and their domestic settings offers a strong and convincing example. Food is a need that brings everyone together and becomes a shared opportunity for us all, like the cake that helps to find creative solutions in the search for happiness.

Empty Fridge will be exhibited at the Biblioteca Salaborsa, in the heart of Bologna, during the Fair and then in Expo Milan 2015, as part of the Biodiversity Park.

Our congratulations must go to Seuil Jeunesse, which published the original French edition of Empty Fridge, entitled Frigo Vide.


‘Empty Fridge’ makes the Wall Street Journal

ImageWe were thrilled to find a sophisticated review of Empty Fridge in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s an extract …

It is not extreme weather but lack of food that presents the central problem in “Empty Fridge”… a picture book for younger children by French illustrator Gaetan Doremus. In the modern apartment building that M. Doremus depicts with delicate black lines and splashes of color, people have become so involved with their daily activities—chatting on the phone and “playing music non-stop”—that they have failed to provision for themselves. Come suppertime, Andrew has just three carrots, Nabil has two eggs and a bit of cheese, and Claire, on the third floor, has only some tomatoes.

As in the old folk tale “Stone Soup,” the solution lies in a kind of cheerful collectivism—voluntary, mind you—that brings neighbors together with their edible oddments to conjure a meal that will feed everyone. Given that the author-illustrator is a Frenchman, it is perhaps no surprise that the resulting fusion food is a colorful quiche. “Slices of quiche, slices of life,” we read, as the quiche fad spreads from the building across the whole city. “It’s such a pleasant and refreshing thing to do,” this sharing of food, that “people find themselves asking: ‘Why don’t we do this every day?’ “

– by Meghan Cox Gurdon. A version of this article appeared June 1, 2013, on page C6 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Droughts And Squalls.

Wall Street Journal

‘Empty Fridge’ is a treat: Babyology

Great little review of our latest picture book, Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge, on the Babyology website. Here’s an extract:

A detail from the climax of Gaetan Doremus’ Empty Fridge

So for all the parents who have stood, staring into the cupboard for dinner inspiration, comes Empty Fridge, by French author and illustrator Gaetan Doremus.

Empty Fridge is a story about dinner time at a five-storey apartment building. The residents have all had busy days and, on returning home, find their cupboards practically bare. One has some carrots, another has some peas. One has some eggs and another some capsicum. None of these ingredients alone is enough to make a meal but what happens when all the neighbours get together?

In the top-floor apartment, Rose takes stock of all the ingredients and suggests they make a quiche. Everyone works together, slicing and dicing vegetables and rolling pastry to cook their communal meal. The neighbours decide to eat outside and discover that the whole neighbourhood has gathered to eat together, which is where my favourite line from the book is used:

“Thousands of quiches are shared and eaten. Slices of quiche, slices of life.”


Empty Fridge is a treat – from its large format, fridge-like shape to the beautifully detailed drawings of people in their houses.

Empty Fridge has been chosen as the Focus Book for this year’s Social Inclusion Week.

Babyology is a premium online resource for parents, providing information and reviews on products and services for them and their children. It facilitates a community where parents can discuss products and services and ask questions of experts in the field.

‘Empty Fridge’ chosen as Focus Book for Social Inclusion Week

Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus has been chosen as the Focus Book for this year’s Social Inclusion Week (24 November to 2 December 2012).

Social Inclusion Week  was established in 2009 by  Dr Jonathan Welch AM, founder of the original Choir of Hard Knocks, which featured on ABC television and has inspired the formation of  street choirs around the world. It encourages communities across Australia to reconnect and be inclusive of all cultures, age groups, nationalities and the disadvantaged.

In 2012, the Social Inclusion Week message is,  ‘Collaborate, Connect and Celebrate’, and its focus is on mental health and engaging older Australians.

In addition to grass roots, community-created events, referred to as National Street Parties, there will be a number of national events and activities during the Week.

‘We’ve chosen Empty Fridge as our Focus Book this year because it is not only a very entertaining read for kids and families, but also touches on exactly the values we feel are central to Social Inclusion Week: people coming together and making connections,’ says David Jones, Manager of Social Inclusion Week.

Empty Fridge, written for primary school kids, tells the story of a group of apartment block residents who come home at the end of the day to find that they have hardly anything in their fridges. They bring whatever ingredients they have together to create a meal that inspires the whole neighbourhood.

Kids will be encouraged to read and discuss the book, with schools, families and libraries able to download a free resource kit. Kids can then upload their own creative responses to a special wikispace. 

A number of copies of Empty Fridge will also be donated by Australian Rotary  to schools across the country, with a portion of the money raised going to help fund the new School of Hard Knocks Institute, established by Dr Welch to provide professional arts, cultural and well-being programs to Australians experiencing homelessness or disadvantage.

‘We love to publish books that encourage kids to think about the world around them and their place in it, so we’re delighted Empty Fridge has been chosen for Social Inclusion Week. We’re looking forward to getting behind this year’s events,’ says Wilkins Farago’s Director, Andrew Wilkins.

‘Empty Fridge’ is Readings’ Kids Book of the Month

Readings Kids Book of the Month

New book alert! Our latest kids picture book, Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus, is released today. We’re delighted to announce it has been selected by Readings Books Music Film as their Kids Book of the Month for August.

Here it is proudly featured on the front cover of the new Readings Monthly newsletter (right).

Angela Crocombe, children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda, also reviews the book inside. Here’s an extract from her review:

It’s been a busy day, you haven’t even thought of dinner, and when you look in the fridge it’s empty. What to do? How about visiting the neighbours to see if together you might have enough food to make a meal? That is the simple premise of this delightful picture book set in a busy five-storey apartment block …

This beautiful evocation of modern living and the pleasures of sharing by French author and illustrator Gaetan Doremus was first published in France and won a prominent kids’ choice award there in 2010. It has been lovingly translated and published in English so that now everyone from three-year-olds to adults can enjoy its delectable delights!

  • You can read the full review, and buy the book from Readings’ online store, here. (It’s always better to buy a book from someone who cares.)
  • To view inside the book, click here.

Out today!

Sign up for our special e-news here.

Reading for Social Peace project launched

We’re delighted to announce that the Reading for Social Peace Project is now up and running.

Inspired by a National Library of the Maldives reading campaign, we’ve teamed up with Yarra Plenty Regional Library in Victoria to create a project that encourages kids to read with a questioning and open mind, and to use their reading to stimulate thought and discussion about social peace.

What’s social peace? It’s peace in our families; among our friends; in our communities, towns, cities or country; it can mean the absence of conflict and war; it can also mean how we can better live together.

At the launch of Reading for Social Peace (from left): YPRL Director Christine Mackenzie, with author Davide Cali, YPRL’s Blaise van Hecke, Councilor Mary Lalios and Wilkins Farago’s Director, Andrew Wilkins.

Ultimately, this project is about helping kids arrive at their own definition of social peace, by exposing them to books that get them thinking. Then, it’s over to them to respond in a creative way: through a piece of writing or art, a video or song: anything that makes sense to them.

Reading for Social Peace has its own wiki space page where you can find out about the first four books chosen for the project:

  • The Bear with the Sword by Davide Cali and Gianluca Foli
  • The Red Piano by André Leblanc and Barroux
  • The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch
  • Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus (to be published in August)

There’s also a space for kids to post their own creations.

This is not just a project for those within the area serviced by Yarra Plenty Regional Library. Libraries and schools across Australia—or indeed around the world—are more than welcome to get involved now. All you need to do get started is pick up one of the four books above and get reading!

Reading for Social Peace is a National Year of Reading project.

Sign up for our special e-news here.