Now time went by as time will do;
And as it passed, the children grew.
The problem was that as they grew,
Their appetites kept growing, too!
Storybooks about picky eaters seem to be a dime a dozen, but there is no question that The Seven Silly Eaters stands out in that crowd. Instead of a tale of grumpy complaints, this rhyming story of a pack of wee food critics is upbeat and fun.
One of the ways the author maintains that sense of jolliness is by emphasizing the positive rather than the negative. It seems like such a little thing, but in the overall scheme of things I have found that it makes a huge difference that instead of the usual gripes about not wanting to eat ones vegetables/liver/etc., Hoberman focuses on the single food or beverage that each child does want to eat—at every meal, day after day after day, much to their mother’s frustration. Again, it seems like a small thing, but children pick up on the small things. I think most parents would rather have their child hearing about something that a character finds particularly tasty (especially when those foods include such healthy things as milk, oatmeal, and applesauce), rather than having the idea put in their head that a certain vegetable or other good food is “yucky.”
I also really like the way the story is resolved, for two reasons. First of all, because it celebrates the mother and acknowledges the hard work that she has done. Secondly, I like that instead of the usual ending to such stories, which generally features the unlikely scenario of a child suddenly discovering that peas/liver/brussels sprouts are his new favourite food, this story ends with a culinary resolution that is, if not true-to-life, then at least logical, and which involves a neatly presented example of what cooperation can accomplish.