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.