The Seven Silly Eaters (with a Recipe for Mrs. Peters’ Birthday Cake!)

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The Seven Silly Eaters is a picture book that will take you by surprise.

cover page of The Seven Silly EatersI came across it almost by chance, it cropped up while I was looking for books that would hopefully help to defuse a "fussy eater" situation in my own home.

Sometimes parents hope that humor is the best medicine.

Well, we do try everything...

My daughter was probably in the Top 5 fussy eaters in the world (well.. it seemed that way, anyway) during her first three years of life, so I constantly kept an eye open for books that could make light of during the endless hours that we spent "eating" every day.

 Although my excuse was to try to find a book that would help her overcome the eating problem, it probably was more of a help to me ... this effort to find a book that would magically solve the fussy eating.

After I turned on the "fussy eater" book filter in my head and started browsing online offerings, one day I came across Mary Ann Hoberman's The Seven Silly Eaters.
Let's be honest. When you have a child that refuses to eat every meal, you don't think of your kid as a "silly eater".

Silly is when someone eats freshly-picked strawberries with ... mustard.

image of Mrs Peters feeding milk to her son Peter
So, it wasn't the title that immediately captured my attention. In fact, it seemed too silly for me.

It was the art and the fantastic reviews of the book online.

This is a rare picture book team effort for which I can not give more credit to the author or to the illustrator. The success of The Seven Silly Eaters is equally split between author Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrator Marla Frazee.

While Hoberman's language and story-telling are superb, Marla Frazee's illustration style is colorful, rich and very approachable for children. It does not leave your mind uncertain, her illustrations speak volumes and clearly.

That in itself is great for toddlers, as they really should be able to enjoy picture books that have both great visuals and great stories.

As for the reactions of other parents/readers? Believe it or not - 76 reviews, including 69 five-star reviews and 5 four-star reviews.

That was good enough for me to try to play a surprise on my fussy little eater. Of course, this would have to be done discreetly.

Even when the book arrived, I underestimated the effect it would have. I thought it was just another good picture book.

In fact this is one of the best read-aloud books we have in our library. It is a joy to read aloud from start to finish, due to the exquisite language and beautiful composition of the
poetic text.

Not so long ago, they say,
A mother lived - just like today.
Mrs. Peters was her name;
Her little boy was named the same.
Now Peter was a perfect son
In every way - except for one.

The Seven Silly Eaters is in a class of its own. It is clearly a labor of love that was meticulously planned and the precise language and rhyme make the book tick like a Swiss clock - from the moment you voice the first word.

Even after dozens of reads, every time it is as fresh and challenging as it was in the beginning.

The Seven Silly Eaters is a story about an ever-growing family that has at its center a selfless Mrs. Peters who sacrifices her day (as many good parents have to do) to make her children finish their meals.

As the story progresses, the Peters family grows.

First came Peter who only liked his milk served warm.

Then came Lucy who bellowed for pink lemonade.

The next was Jack who'd only eat applesauce.

They had a younger brother named Mac, who loved lumpless outmeal.

Next year came Mary Lou who preffered soft and squishy homemade bread.

To top it off, twins Flo and Fran liked poached (Flo) and fried (Fran) eggs.

Mrs. Peters keeps providing everything, until she almost reaches breaking point.

Creamy outmeal, pots of it!
Homemade bread and lots of it!
Peeling apples by the peck,
Mrs. Peters was a wreck.

One day her kids attempt to make their individual favorite meals secretly during the night to surprise their mom for her birthday, but the bumbling children mistakenly mix all their favourite foods and they hide the evidence in a warm oven.

Next morning their mom is surprised to find a delicious birthday cake waiting for her.
To ease her life, all kids also agree to eat the unimitable birthday cake in the future, instead of their individual meals.

[If you wish to write down the recipe for the incredible Mrs. Peters’ Birthday Cake, scroll to the end of this post.]

For my kids, The Seven Silly Eaters remains a special, exciting look into a family of seven siblings, all of whom are quirky regarding their food - and how they attempt to
make it up to their mom for her birthday, by making a special treat.

They adore the second part of the book that shows initiative on the part of the kids, who are not simply "spoonfed throughout the book".

At its core, this is a book about the selfless hero of every family - the mom.

Chances are - it's a book about you!

I'd love to know about more books that are great for fussy eaters and their families. Any tips?

Read Aloud Dad's signature in blue ink

The Seven Silly Eaters is available from booksellers in the US:


The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

and from other countries:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE

Recipe for Mrs. Peters’ Birthday Cake (8 to 10 portions)

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup oatmeal, quick or regular
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 drops red food coloring

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Warm milk to 70 degrees and add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Let sit 10 minutes until milk has thickened.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, blending well.
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oatmeal.
  5. Blend applesauce with thickened milk and red food coloring.
  6. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with the milk/applesauce mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  7. Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan.


  1. Hi Kimberly, 

    I don't know how did I manage not to respond to this comment that you left me back in February 2011. I make a point of responding to all comments - but this one somehow eluded me. 

    Anyhow, I listened to your tip - and it was excellent! 

    Almost a year later ... here is the link to the post inspired by the book that you recommended... 

    Thanks so much Kimberly!

    Read Aloud Dad

    Re: @8d9f8481627970a1e7de2dbc449849c7 

  2. For a simple step-by-step program that can help your child learn to read visit this site: read learning
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