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Bread and Jam for Frances & Spaghetti and Meatballs

by Laura on March 30, 2011

This is the first in a new series of posts. So many of my happiest hours were spent reading to my two children and cooking together. And so many splendid picture books lend themselves to a particular recipe, sometimes more.  When my Honey Girl and Sweet Boy were little ones, we walked to the library with our wagon in tow every week. They could fill the wagon as high as was possible with books, and we’d walk home with it wibble-wobbling behind us, with books threatening to topple and held steady by little hands.  During the winter, if it was terribly cold or the sidewalks were too icy, we loaded the wagon into the trunk of our car and hauled it into the library.  At home, we would work our way through the stacks, setting aside the best books.  Then we would read those, over and over and over again, sometimes until my voice was hoarse.  Each of us had favorites for the week; our Honey Girl preferred silly books, our Sweet Boy loved books with a lovely music about them, and I favored sweet storytelling.   But we all loved that time together on our ratty sofa.  “Again, again, again!” my sweet ones would chirp.  And I would begin again.

The first book I’ve picked is Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban; I think we must have read it three hundred times.   It was my favorite book as a girl, and my two peanuts loved it, too.  Frances the badger loves bread and jam, and has interest in eating little else.  Her story unfolds over the breakfast and dinner tables of her sweet badger family, and at school, over desktop lunches with her friend, Albert.  When Frances grows weary of bread and jam, she is finally beguiled by a plate of her mother’s spaghetti and meatballs.  Russell Hoban’s descriptions of Frances and her family, their quiet exchanges, Frances’ and Albert’s lunches, and Frances’ little songs are charming.  And Lillian Hoban’s pencil illustrations are tender and evocative.  Curl up with it, and then make some spaghetti and meatballs together.  And when you eat them, like Frances, make the meatballs, the tomato sauce, and the spaghetti come out even.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sophia March 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Such fond memories! Love you mama!

2 Laura March 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

The happiest. Love you, too, Pickle! xx

3 Kathy - Panini Happy March 30, 2011 at 7:57 pm

What a sweet post! The Frances books were always a favorite in our house growing up too and my little girl now enjoys them too.

4 William Nolan March 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I like the ingredient layout. Cool idea.

5 Lena March 31, 2011 at 3:37 am

How funny, I remember the book from my childhood as well. I didn’t noticed until I saw the picture of Frances on the cover of the book. Funny is too, that as a child, I was totally fond of bread with red currant jelly from a relative of ours. Still delicious. Everytime I get there, I get a jar.

6 Laura March 31, 2011 at 10:28 am

I think this book has been special to so many people.

7 JuliP March 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm

The Frances books are some of my favorites. I loved this one and A Birthday for Frances. I will have to get the Bread and Jam for Frances out. Spaghetti and Meatballs is one of our favorite meals to make and eat!
Emily LOVED making the meatballs!

8 Laura March 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Juli! It means so much to me that you stopped by the blog, and even more that you made this with your kids! xo

9 krisannjacobson April 3, 2011 at 8:45 am

I loved these books too. Both as a child and as a mother. What a great idea for a post, Laura.

10 Lizzi April 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm

My absolutely FAVOURITE book as a child! I related to it a little too much.

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