scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
Well, after my last picture book post (about Seven Spools of Thread) this makes back-to-back posts about picture books featuring seven siblings! Odd, considering I grew up as the oldest of seven children. Given that fact, I'm amazed I hadn't encountered Mary Ann Hoberman's The Seven Silly Eaters until just a few days ago.
This story is not only sweet and silly, but it's written entirely in rhyme -- and well-written rhyme with a consistent meter and without a bunch of awkward/forced phrasing, which makes it even better. The verses chronicle the growth of the Peters family -- from one to seven children, as their mother, Mrs. Peters (who is FAR more of a saint than I am) patiently prepares more and more special foods as the family grows, since each picky eater has only one particular food that they eat (this is the silly part, because obviously no one could survive on any of those foods alone -- pink lemonade, applesauce, milk, etc. -- and I also don't think this book is suggesting that anyone should go to these kinds of lengths to indulge picky eating).
Finally, she is so worn out that she goes to bed, wondering if anyone remembers that it's her birthday the next day. Her children do, and take it upon themselves to bake something, but their attempts -- which will surely strike terror into the heart of any neat freak (or any parent, for that matter) -- seem to be futile, especially when all their foods get combined.
The ending is so cute, and I especially like the detail in the illustrations that shows Mrs. Peters practicing her cello -- the more kids she has, the less she does it, but once the children all begin learning to help out in the kitchen, we see her doing it again. I thought this story was a great combination of reality and absurdity, and certainly portrays moments that would be familiar to anyone who grew up in (or parents/parented) a large family.
After reading this, I wondered whether anyone had actually come up with a recipe to fit this story. Well, this is the internet, so of course they did: here's one blog which took the recipe right from the author's website. We haven't tried it yet, but it looks like fun and I bet the kids will especially like making something they've already read about in a book.
Author: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrator: Marla Frazee
Content Advisory: None