“I never think about myself being an icon…I just do my thing.” This simple but profound quotation from Audrey Hepburn is a fitting introduction to “Just Being Audrey”, a biographical picture book written by Margaret Cardillo and exquisitely illustrated by Julia Denos.
In “Just Being Audrey” Ms. Cardillo pens a tribute to a woman whom she finds intriguing not just for the classic films which first brought Audrey Hepburn to her attention, but also for the woman that Ms. Hepburn was off the screen. The book follows the remarkable story of Audrey’s life from her time as a child in Belgium where she worked assiduously at ballet, to hiding from the Nazis during WWII, to her brilliant film career and the popularity of her iconic style, to her dream role as a mother of two, and finally to her tireless efforts working on behalf of underprivileged children around the world. What shines through most clearly in “Just Being Audrey” is not Audrey’s remarkable achievements, but the simple nobility and strength of her character – her unique grace and kindness, her love of children (especially her two sons), and the fact that she remained true to herself throughout her life regardless what was happening around her. I think it is this strength of character perhaps more than anything else that has made her unique style (the “Audrey look”) so popular, so timeless, and still relevant today.
Julia Denos’ ink and watercolor illustrations that cover every page do a remarkable job of capturing that “Audrey look” and conveying the essence of Audrey Hepburn. In many instances throughout the book the pictures portray the sense that Ms. Hepburn was not afraid to stand alone and be her own person, even when she was different from everyone around her. As a ballet student in Belgium she twirls away focused on her craft while her classmates watch and giggle; standing in the middle of a bustling Manhattan sidewalk, she almost seems to float above the gray mass of activity that surrounds her; and, she exudes as much class and charm in her role as mother to her two sons as she does in any or her glamorous movie roles. These illustrations add so much to the book and beautifully capture the way Audrey embraced her uniqueness and followed her own path.
We picked out this well-loved storybook for Day 68 in honor of International Women’s Day to inspire our own girls to embrace their individuality, accept life’s challenges with grace, and nurture their kind hearts, like Audrey.