“You’ve read The Seven Silly Eaters, haven’t you?” My friend Michelle asked.
I’d never even heard of it.
“Oh! You have to read it!” she gushed. “You’ll love it.”
I am always worried when people say this because what if I don’t? I have, um, standards when it comes to books, you know? I often find myself rolling my eyes and groaning over prose (and poetry) that others don’t even bat an eye at, don’t even notice.
Michelle said, “Here. I have a copy. You can borrow it.”
This book she’s lending me? It’s written in rhymed couplets. Do you know how hard it is to write good rhymed verse? And how easy it is to cop out and opt for the easy rhyme instead of working for something less obvious? Not to mention that rhyming metered verse almost always ends up being annoyingly singsong.
So I was skeptical, to say the least, but I accepted the proffered book, with a smile even. I took it home and read it to my kids.
Now Peter was a perfect son
in every way—except for one.
When Peter was just one year old,
He did not like his milk served cold.
He did not like his milk served hot.
He liked it warm. And he would not
Drink it if he was not sure
It was the proper temperature.
And so it goes, through seven (yes, seven!) children, including a set of twins, each child demanding a special food and refusing to eat anything else.
Jack and Jane laughed. I laughed.
When Doug got home, the kids clamored for me to read it again, “so Dadda can hear,” Jane said.
“It’s so funny!” Jack added.
So I read it again. It was even more delightful the second time through.
We lingered over Marla Frazee‘s delightful illustrations that make the chaos of a house full of children look charming (Think she’ll come illustrate my life?)
We laughed again, Doug joining in, instigating even more laughter this time around.
When I finished reading, the kids danced off chanting, “It’s Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake!”
Doug said, “Man, I was afraid it was going to have a Moral. You know, the kids learn to eat kale at the end or something.”
I grinned at him. “Refreshing, isn’t it?”
And it is: an entire (non-didactic) story in (non-annoying) rhyme. Mary Ann Hoberman is my hero.