Bread and Jam for Frances

What It Is

This is a classic tale featuring Frances, one of children’s literature’s most endearing characters, and her fussiness about food. During a family breakfast of eggs, Frances announces that she prefers bread and jam, and gives a similar response at dinner that night. Feeling a bit frustrated, her parents try a new strategy—offering her only bread and jam for every meal. Predictably, Frances eventually tires of bread and jam when she sees the variety of foods that her friends and family eat. Her breaking point is when her mother serves spaghetti and meatballs. She softly cries at the thought of eating only bread and jam for dinner, yet again. Of course, mama bear gives her some spaghetti, which she gobbles up, and from there on, eats a wonderful variety of food.

Why It’s Fun

Lots of entertaining “bites” in this book such as Frances’ matter-of-fact explanation about why she doesn’t like eggs. Yes, scrambled eggs tend to fall off the fork and sunny-side-up eggs do stare up at you, sort-of. Her songs about various foods are sweet and her friend Albert has quite an interesting array of food in his lunch box. The hand-drawn illustrations are charming, as are the bears’ expressive faces. I could just shed a tear along with Frances!

Who’s Going To Love It

Though written nearly 50 years ago, Russell Hoban’s text is still relevant to the dietary struggles between today’s parents and kids, and his Frances is a childhood “rite of passage.” Any parent who has a picky eater will enjoy this cathartic read. Likewise, fussy eaters will empathize with Frances and may even discover that there is a world of food beyond their two or three favorites (if you’re lucky). Although Frances is a girl, the illustrations and tone are not overly “girly” so boys should enjoy the story too. The recommend age is 4 to 8, though it feels like a book for 3 to 6-year-olds, despite its length.

All books shelves should have at least a couple of Frances titles and this is a good candidate. Perhaps even as a nice gift from grandma?

Reading Time

About 8 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

9 out of 10

Book Information

Bread and Jam for Frances
By: Russell Hoban, Pictures By Lillian Hoban
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers (1964)
Approximate retail price: $6.99 (paperback) $17.99 (hardcover)

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