Author: Russell Hoban
Illustrator: Lillian Hoban
Age Group: 1-8 years
Synopsis: Frances doesn’t want to try anything new, she’s sure she won’t like it. What she does like is bread and jam for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Doesn’t she?
The Low Down: I love Frances. I loved Frances when I was little. I love Frances now. I will love Frances when my hair is grey and I have no teeth. I love A Bargin for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, A Best Friend for Frances, A Birthday for Frances and don’t even get me started on Bedtime for Frances. If there are other Frances books out there that I haven’t read I’m sure I would love them too. I would even read something entitled: An Income Tax Filing for Frances. However, I shall stick to Bread and Jam for Frances today, or at least I’ll try to.
First, there’s Frances herself. She’s such a true depiction of a small child. She’s constantly singing clever little songs she makes up. Bug loves these songs. We make up tunes and sometimes sing them while we’re out and about in town. Frances also has the most wonderful comments that are the picture innocence and just flat out amusing.
“Scrambled eggs fall off your fork and roll under the chair,” said Frances. Yes! Yes, sometimes they do do that and when she says that in the book I can envision them doing just that. In my mind there is a taffic jam (punn intended?) of scrambled eggs under her chair. I don’t know much about the Hobans but I imagine these stories were taken directly from their home because the dialogue sounds like things I encounter (or am preparing to encounter) everyday as a mom.
Which brings me to Frances’ parents. They should win some type of award. They are patient, take things in stride, and allow Frances to discover things on her own with their helpful encouragement. Yes, I know they are badgers and fictional but how amazing is it that they know that eventually Frances will get tired of bread and jam? Picky eating is something we don’t deal with too often. Bug has inherited his father’s love and bravery when it comes to trying new food. However, every once in awhile I make an amazing dinner, a breaded veal cutlet with baked potatoes, if you will, and Bug refuses to even try it. He sticks his nose up, smiles, and says, in quite a cheeky manner, “No.” It makes any parent want to scream or pull out the bread and jam.
However, when you read Bread and Jam for Frances you don’t want bread and jam at all. In fact, Russell Hoban somehow makes every meal the badger family has sound like a five star meal. I don’t like eggs all that much but they have soft boiled eggs one morning and poached eggs on toast the next. I’m always suddenly hungry when I read about that. Or their meal of spaghetti and meatballs when Frances finally breaks down and asks for something other than bread and jam? It makes my mouth water every time. The final straw is Albert’s (Frances’ friend) lunch. First of all, how does he pack all that food in one lunch box? He makes hard boiled eggs (oh how I shudder when I think of hard boiled eggs. Yuck!) sound decadent. Russell Hoban’s story is rich, real, and so applicable for everyday life. It’s almost as perfect, as the little vase of violets Frances has to adorn her bread and jam-less lunch at the end of the book.
- Bug loves singing the songs that are sprinkled throughout the book or I suppose he loves it when I sing them and he dances.
- Have ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs. If you don’t crave them after this book than I applaud your control.
I need more!
Then you’re in luck! There are more Frances books by Russell and Lillian Hoban including: A Bargin for Frances, A Baby Sister for Frances, Best Friends for Frances, A Birthday for Frances, and Bedtime for Frances. His website is: http://www.russellhoban.org/ Russell Hoban’s book list is LONG (61 titles for just the children’s books). He also has YA and adult books as well.
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