Audrey Hepburn’s life, presented in a temporally unusual structure by her son and daughter-in-law.
“I was born on May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Belgium,” opens the first-person narration. Newborn Audrey’s short dark hair is already arranged in Hepburn’s signature pixie cut; her tiny-waisted mother wears a fashionista dress and chic hat even while saving infant Audrey from whooping cough. As Audrey grows, there’s a move to Holland, where ice skating is overtaken by war: the Occupation, air raids, and hunger (“the soldiers took all our food. So we ate green-pea bread, dog cookies, and tulip bulbs”). Midbook, the narrative voice changes to the present tense, but it is still wartime. Audrey now rests in bed to “preserve…calories,” daydreaming—still in present tense—adult Hepburn’s (true) future. Audrey playacts “little plays and musicals” (illustrated as her most acclaimed future roles); raises kids (dolls, stuffed animals); and engages in charitable work. The illustrations, featuring pale colors, white space, and neat, skinny-limbed characters, are whimsical and delicate; a scene of Audrey, hungry, standing in the snow to watch officers feast inside a restaurant renders the soldiers goofy and the overall feeling romantic. Hepburn’s adult accomplishments, ensconced inside wartime childhood fancies, sound both milder than reality and vaguer. Readers without vivid Hepburn images already dancing in their minds (that is, most children) will find this bland, with nothing to latch onto. Because child-Audrey never grows up here, her satisfaction at a life well lived strikes a peculiar note.
For adult Hepburn completists and their extremely patient children.(afterwords) (Picture book/biography. 4-7, adult)