"Bread and Jam for Frances," by Russel Hoban
Pictures by Lillian Hoban
Paperback, 32 pages
Published January 28th 1993 by HarperCollins (first published 1964)
"Mommy, can you read to me?” She asks sweetly. I am tired. Today has felt like a million days all in a row. But, I say yes and her eyes light up with excitement. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
We pick “Bread and Jam for Frances” which, despite being wordy for a bedtime book, is one of our favorite books. Normally at bedtime I opt for books that are short and sweet. But Frances is so sweet I’ll make an exception.
Frances is a typical little girl, although in this case, she’s a badger. Frances eats meals with her family and Mother sends her lunch with her to school.
Frances only likes to eat bread and jam. She’s particularly disapproving of eggs and breaded veal cutlets. She sings songs to her food as a way of expression.
I do not like the way you slide,
I do not like your soft inside,
I do not like you lots of ways,
And I could do for many days,
Mother and Father are trying to help Frances broaden her palate but Frances is stubborn. So Mother plays along. She feeds Frances bread and jam for every meal. At first, Frances feels like she’s won the lottery. Her sweet innocence comes through in Hoban’s descriptive prose.
"...there are many different things to eat, and they taste many different ways. But when I have bread and jam I always know what I am getting, and I am always pleased."
Pretty soon, Frances tires of bread and jam. Variety is the spice of life, and France needs more than just bread and jam.
"I know how a jam jar feels: full...of...jam."
"Bread and Jam for Frances" is a genius book for children, particularly if you have picky eaters. It seems that Mother badger and Mrs Piggle Wiggle are cut from the same cloth. I like their style, gently letting the child decide and learn to be responsible for their bodies and behavior.