Carrie's War book cover

The comforting image of an idealized maternal figure and environment are produced in Nina Bawden’s Carrie’s War. Carrie and her little brother Nick are evacuated to Wales during World War 2. They are billeted with a rather strange couple whose house is cold and austere. But they derive much comfort from visiting Hepzibah whose kitchen is “A warm, safe, lighted place … Coming into it was like coming home on a bitter cold day to a bright, leaping fire. It was like the smell of bacon when you were hungry; loving arms when you were lonely; safety when you were scared.’ Thus, the kitchen is a maternalized space, a place where warmth, the promise of food, bodily contact, and security conflate to produce feelings of comfort. When the children first meet Hepzibah she is “smiling. She was tall with shining hair the colour of copper. She wore a white apron, and there was flour on her hands. She has “a rather broad face, pale as cream, and dotted with freckles. Carrie thought she looked beautiful: so warm and friendly and kind.’ The feelings of homely, maternal comfort evoked by the descriptions of the kitchen and of Hepzibah herself are embellished and reinforced by sensuous descriptions of food. Carrie is shown the dairy where “there were speckly eggs in trays on the shelf, slabs of pale, oozy butter, and a big bowl of milk with a skin of cream on the top.

— Carolyn Daniel, Voracious Children: Who Eats Whom In Children’s Literature

 

Do you have a favourite picturebook kitchen?

The Treasure Bag: stories and poems selected by Lena Barksdale. Illustrated by Maurice Brevannes, 1947.

The Treasure Bag: stories and poems selected by Lena Barksdale. Illustrated by Maurice Brevannes, 1947.

from one of the Brambly Hedge books

 

by Tasha Tudor, illustrator

by Tasha Tudor, illustrator

 

The Diary Of A Forest Girl by illustrator Aeppol

The Diary Of A Forest Girl by illustrator Aeppol

Little House On The Prairie Kitchen

Little House On The Prairie illustrated by Garth Williams

Little House On The Prairie Garth Williams

Food would have been basic by modern standards, but was very important in the stories

 

The illustrations in this early edition of the book seem a lot more austere than the 1980s television adaptation

The illustrations in this early edition of the book seem a lot more austere than the 1980s television adaptation

from Oliver Twist

from Oliver Twist

Animal Kitchens

The smaller, working-class Victorian kitchen or parlour would appear, to a modern child, to have all the warm, dark earthiness of rabbit hole or badger sett.

— Margaret Blount, Animal Land

Wind In The Willows

Kitchen scene from Wind In The Willows by Arthur Rackham

Kitchen scene from Wind In The Willows by Arthur Rackham

Wind In The Willows kitchen illustrated this time by Inga Moore

Wind In The Willows kitchen illustrated this time by Inga Moore

And this one is by Robert Ingpen.

And this one is by Robert Ingpen.

Brambly Hedge

Jill Barclem cooking on the fire

Brambly Hedge: Jill Barclem illustrates cooking on the fire, Victorian style

Jill Barclem Brambly Hedge

Another kitchen from Brambly Hedge — in an animal utopia there is always enough to eat and no one ever gets eaten themselves.

Brambly Hedge

Another well-stocked kitchen

MERCY WATSON

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride

from Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride by Kate diCamillo 2006

from Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride by Kate diCamillo 2006

Every Saturday

DUCK CAKES FOR SALE

Duck Cakes For Sale cosy kitchen01_600x571 Duck Cakes For Sale cosy kitchen02_600x560

The cosy kitchen is often chaotic, overflowing with food (and love and happiness).

Bush Picnic by Eveline Dare and John Richards (1970)

Here we have a happy nuclear family, but with a modern and sleek kitchen (1970 version). This appears in a picture book, but might just as well appear in an advertisement for stainless steel kettles or kitchen design.

Bush Picnic 1970 kitchen_600x369

Courage The Cowardly Dog (Horror Comedy TV Series 1999-)

muriel-takes-pie-out-of-oven

The Duck Tale (1908)