Skip to main content

Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee

This review first ran on 10/4/09. A story time staple when I worked at the bookstore, The Seven Silly Eaters is one of my top 5 picture books of all time. Hoberman's rhyming text is perfectly pitched and brilliantly paired with Frazee's illustrations. A must have, and it's available in paperback!

As I was writing my review of Mary Ann Hoberman's debut novel for young adults, Strawberry Hill, I just had to mention Seven Silly Eaters, a long time favorite of mine and my children. Rather than stick this mention in at the end of the review of the novel, I decided to honor it with one of it's own and call attention, again, a brilliant poet and essential contributor to the world of children's literature over the last 50+ years.

In the fall of 2008, in honor of Mary Ann Hoberman being named the second ever national Children's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation (on the heels of Jack Prelutsky) I reviewed her excellent series of books for new readers (and a friend) titled You Read to Me and I'll Read to You, of which there are now four. Author of over 45 books, only one of which is not in verse, Hoberman might be best known for her 1978 winner of the National Book Award, A House is a House for Me, illustrated by frequent collaborator, Betty Fraser. Fraser also provided the illustrations for The Llama Had No Pajama, a collection of 100 of Hoberman's favorite poems she has written for children. If you do not own this book, which is available in paperback, you must rush out and buy it today. Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky have dominated the shelves of the children's poetry section for long enough! Published in 1997 and available in paperback as well, Seven Silly Eaters is illustrated by one of my all-time favorite illustrators/authors, Marla Frazee. Frazee is winner of the Caldecott Honor medal in 2009 for her excellent book, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, which made it onto my Best Picture Books of 2008 review. Frazee's illustrations not only enhance the story of the Peters family, but the detail rich pictures sometimes tell a story of their own.

Wether you have a house full of children or just one, all parents who have aimed to please at one time or another will appreciate the plot of Seven Silly Eaters, which is the story of one mother, her
seven children and their particular eating habits, told in rhyme. Frazzled by meeting the needs of her warm milk, homemade bread, pink lemonade, poached egg, non-lumpy oatmeal, applesauce loving children, she forgets her birthday. But, the children don't. In their efforts to treat her by preparing their favorite foods for her breakfast, they instead end up with a messy kitchen and a pot filled to the top with all their favorite foods. They hide it in the oven, which they forget is still hot, and return to bed. In the morning there is an amazing birthday cake made from all their favorite foods and - best of all - all seven children like it! It turns out that Hoberman has spent quite a bit of time and energy creating a recipe that actually bakes up into a delicious cake. Mrs Peters' Birthday Cake can now be made by kids and parents at home!

Mary Ann Hoberman's most recent book, All Kinds of Families, illustrated by Marc Boutavant, is another great parade of rhymes. While the title and timing may make it sounds like a book about diversity and acceptance, which it certainly could be read as, at its heart it is about a child's natural inclination to group objects. A knife, a fork and a spoon, the sun, the stars and the moon, pebbles and dolls and letters and numbers, we have all watched our children sort things out and Hoberman goes the extra, important step of calling these groups families.


Ashley Howland said…
What a fantastic book, I will be getting this for my daughters, thanks for the review.
Ronda said…
This is one of my family's favorites! I have taken it to school to read to their classes (grades 2-3), and it's been popular there, too. It's a little too long for a preschool circle time read-aloud, but worked well as a bed-time story at that age.
Tanya said…
It is a bit long for the preschool crowd, I agree. Sadly, I have lost a few kids every time I have tried to read it to a young bunch during story time at the bookstore. HOWEVER - most parents know that young children are much better at listing to a long story in the comfort of their own home (or parental lap) than in a bookstore or school environment. Don't hesitate to try reading this book to a toddler. If nothing else, you can just look at the pictures and talk about all the wonderful things the kids are up to.
nopinkhere said…
Thanks for this one! The combination of poem and illustrations is great. I'm surprised my 3yo not only will sit through it, but he requests it! I got it because he's a picky eater and was hoping it might help his attitude. It mostly just made me feel like things could definitely be worse. Now he wants to make cake!
Tanya said…
That is hilarious!! Being a picky eater, I wonder if he would like Mrs Peter's Birthday cake that is full of applesauce and pink lemonade... If you make it let me know how it turns out!

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…