"Bread and Jam for Frances" - by Russell Hoban, illustrations by Lillian Hoban

posted Apr 6, 2016, 1:59 PM by Amie Ridley
This is THE book that inspired my love of a well packed lunch box.  Period.

I was read this book as a child, or I read it as a child - probably both.  But my presiding memory of this book is this picture.  There is just something about this lovely lunch, with it's little doily, lovingly packed by her Mother that inspired me.  

But the Frances series as a whole have been a joy to rediscover with my own children.  Much like the Betty Bunny series (see earlier posts), these are "lesson books" that I actually like.  Which did set me to thinking a bit recently about why I like some books with lessons and not others...  I can be exceptionally harsh about some blatant lesson-y books, and yet I love Frances and Betty.  Why is that?

Well, I think I finally figured out some of what it is.  Frances has wise parents, who are really patient and creative in their parenting.  I have learnt a lot from reading these books also.  But I think the main reason is that the lessons in these books take time, and are learnt from the child's perspective not the adults.  Frances learns to love all kinds of foods in her own time, and in her own way - and it's her journey that you follow, not some imposed adults message that overrides her natural process as a child.  

And that's very important - children are wanting to relate to the central characters.  Characters like this allow children to externalise their feelings and process them in a safe manner, outside of themselves, by relating to the character in a book.  This is a really, really important aspect of learning and processing feelings for children, and something the Frances series does really well.  We read "A Baby Sister for Frances" quite a bit with Miss 6 when Miss 2 was very new.  Frances really struggles with her feelings about her new sister, and how much time she doesn't get to spend with her Mother and Father now that Gloria (the baby) is here.  She is allowed to express her anger and sadness - and so by proxy Miss 6 (4 at the time) was also allowed to experience those emotions and journey through them with Frances.  

Of course there is always hope at the end as well.  Frances does learn to love her sister and find her place in the family.  And in "Bread and Jam..." Frances does learn to like all kinds of foods.  I have spoken before about the importance of hope in books - and in this series I think there is hope not only for children, but for their parents!  Double Whammy of good reading!

And then there's this line: "I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks.  I think eating is nice." Yes indeed!