Mary Ann Hoberman’s The Seven Silly Eaters is a well-written book, taking advantage of rhyme and rhythm (great for pre-readers) as well as silliness and excesses. But I have to confess, Marla Frazee’s illustrations are what really makes this one of my all-time favorite books. She captures such detail and such reality in the portrayal of this growing brood of seven children. The familial scenes run the gamut from pastoral to chaotic, including details like sneaky indoor snowball fights, sick kids falling asleep amid scattered tissues, and piles of laundry and childhood art projects scattered in the background. I love these illustrations so much, I have honestly considered buying another book, just so I can frame a few of my favorites!
Now that you know how I really feel about these illustrations, let me tell you a bit more about the story and some activities that might follow! The Seven Silly Eaters is a tale of a sweet, patient mother, Mrs. Peters, who makes her children their one and only favorite foods that they insist on having. This doesn’t seem to be much of a burden as she has just one and then two, but she is pushed to the brink as her family grows to include seven children, each with his or her own favorite food. On Mrs. Peters’ birthday, the children decide to make their favorite foods for her, but it all goes horribly wrong and all seven dishes end up in one pot in the oven. Surprisingly, this turns into a fantastic cake that becomes the family’s new favorite dish, one that everyone agrees on and everyone can help make. Mrs. Peters’ sanity is saved!
This is a fun book to read with little ones, both for the great writing and illustrations I’ve mentioned (at length) above, but because it opens up a wonderful discussion about what their favorite foods are, and also the importance of trying new foods. For those harried parents out there making special meals for each picky child, this book may be a great read before kicking that habit!
After reading this story and discussing some of the children’s reactions, you might want to do a whole language activity, asking the children “What is your favorite food?” Use some of the tips from “Do the Write Thing” to make the most of this language activity. (You may want to have individual pages to send home, to collect in a class book about favorite foods, or save each child’s whole language activity in a personal journal.)
Another activity I like to do is to make pink lemonade. Now in the story, Lucy’s favorite food is pink lemonade, but it has to be home-made. You could choose to make any of the children’s favorite foods, but this is one that is easy to make, especially in a classroom setting, and it’s fun for the children to help out and realize that lemonade can actually come from a lemon! Here’s the recipe:
4 Cups Water
1 Cup Lemon Juice*
2/3 Cup Sugar
A few drops of red coloring
Stir until sugar dissolves. Enjoy!
*I usually have the children juice one lemon to see the juice coming from the fruit, and then I use bottled lemon juice for the remainder of the one cup.
This is a fun snack to share with children and an easy way to reinforce the concept of the origin of food (ie lemon juice and lemonade from a lemon). Too often, children think that food comes from a store…..as in, it’s just there, at the store. Making food together is just one step on the way to clearing up that misconception.
For more food-themed activities, click here!
Lemon photo by Feikje.