Monday, May 28, 2012

A Birthday for Frances (and for me, too) - a favorite from my childhood (ages 3 - 8)

Today is my birthday, and I would like to honor my own mother by sharing one of our favorite books: A Birthday for Frances. Just thinking about this book now puts a huge smile on my face and reminds me of all the wonderful times I had reading together with my mother when I was little. Reading the Frances books made us laugh as a family, made us remember that none of us are perfect, and best of all made us feel loved. So, Mom, here's a Chompo Bar for you on this special day.
A Birthday for Frances
by Russell Hoban
pictures by Lillian Hoban
NY: Harper and Row, 1968
available at your local library, my favorite bookstore, and on Amazon
It's Gloria's birthday, and big sister Frances is having a hard time. She tells her imaginary friend Alice, "That is how it is, Alice. Your birthday is always the one that is not now." Oh, how I could relate! It's so hard when it isn't your birthday. But Frances is sure, just sure that no one understands her.

Frances does decide - a bit reluctantly, for sure - that she should buy Gloria a present with her allowance. She decides on on Chompo Bar and four gumballs. But that Chompo Bar, oh that Chompo Bar just looks sooooo good. Does she really want to save it all for Gloria, or should she take just one taste?

I think what I like best about the Frances books is that Russell Hoban captures how these small moments are truly hard for kids. And yet, he infuses his stories with humor and compassion, so you can laugh at Frances at the same time as knowing just how she feels.

As my own mother read this to me, I knew that she could tell how I felt, that she loved me know matter if I ate my brother's Chompo Bar or not, and that there would be a hug waiting for me when I was ready to come out from under the kitchen table. Thanks, Mom, for infusing my life with a love of stories. For while Chompo Bars will melt and disappear, those memories never will.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this absolutely delightful family story with all of us! I felt I was there hearing your mother read!

  2. I hope you had a Happy Birthday - with Frances! :-)

  3. Thank you for this great little book and Happy Bday :-)

  4. Hope you had a great birthday! I came across your blog today and was immediately interested because I am mom to a 4 year old and blog about reading with children. Frances is very popular around our house and my son loves reading this title as well as A Bargain For Frances. I'd one for you to visit my blog at Thanks!