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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, ill. Lillian Hoban

BreadandJamFrancesHungry? With the new year comes a whole set of resolutions. Not knowing that Kate is on the Whole30 again, I have forced her to read a book where bread plays a major role. Bread, heck. This is a book that could turn children into bonafide foodies. In spite of the fact that all badgers are born in February, we’ve decided to do this book in January. And then, in the course of things, Kate starts looking up what the USDA recommendations are for children, we consider the wackadoodle utensils of the Badger household, what exactly a lobster salad sandwich is, etc. As Kate points out, this is a perfect New Year’s Resolution book because in the story you are encouraged to try new things and break out of your comfort zone. Justification!

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Show Notes:

– Behold! The magnet Kate got me. Ain’t she a good sister?


– If you’re curious about the interview I conducted with Russell Hoban in 2010, you can read the transcript here.

– Is Frances actually the most famous badger in children’s literature? The only other contender that comes immediately to mind is Badger from The Wind in the Willows but how many American children can remember him off the tops of their heads?

– Pipe, check. Housedress, check. Could we get any more 1964?


– This is the point at which the housewares of this book start to get crazy good. Note the magnificent copper cooking equipment with the matching copper teapot.


– I have eaten some good meals in my day but few homemade lunches have ever compared to Albert’s feast. Is this “a badger thing”?


– To say nothing of his fabulous pants.


– “The most interesting utensils of all”. So out of curiosity I went out to find this pepper grinder’s real world equivalent. I think I found it:



– Oh, boy . . . back up, people . . .


– It’s the tiny basket of cherries that destroys me. “Would you like a cherry? I have them in a little wicker basket. It’s the size of your palm.”


– This is what a lobster salad sandwich actually looks like

Lobster Salad Sandwich

– And. Again. Albert rocking the pants.


– The book showed up at #27 on the Top 100 Picture Books poll.

– You can hear the entire text of the book here in this video. And I have to admit, that’s a better egg song than the one I came up with.

– Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Hat tip to for the image.


– And finally, the secret truth we knew all along:


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Betsy, I haven’t listened to your podcast yet, but I will! In it, do you talk about the colorizing of the books? Any issues about them? The original illustrations for “Bread and Jam” were black with pre-separated red and blue tones. When I was at Harper & Row, I worked on “A Bargain for Frances,” and one of my jobs was to check the color separations: hard work for Lillian Hoban and hard work for the copyeditors.

    • Hi Fran!

      First I’ve heard about the colorizing. Would that I’d known more about this. I swear, we need to start getting guests on sometime. Maybe in the future we can do follow-ups with experts, and I could tap you to talk with us more about that. I mean, I just never knew and I suspect other folks are in the same boat!

  2. Carl in Charlotte says:

    My family had a pepper just like that when I was a kid back in the early 60’s.

  3. Fran Manushkin says:

    Here’s a page that shows the Harpercrest edition:

  4. “Bread and Jam” may be my favorite book in the Frances series, perhaps because I have prepared so many school lunches. I would also like to know more about the colorizing controversy, as well as Hoban’s decision to abridge the book as an easy reader.
    In Elizabeth K. Wallace and James D. Wallace’s biography, “Garth Williams, American Illustrator: A Life,” the authors discuss Williams’ resentment at the fact that Lillian Hoban appropriated, as he saw it, his original idea to make Frances a badger, not a vole.
    Finally, I just blogged about what I saw as an homage to “Bread and Jam for Frances,” in Debbi Michiko Florence’s wonderful Jasmine Toguchi series! I don’t know if anyone else read it that way, but here is my take:

  5. Jane Corry says:

    It was one of the books I most looked forward to sharing with my daughter. Alas, she could not tolerate anthropomorphism.

  6. My favorite Frances book is A Baby Sister for Frances where she runs away to under the kitchen table. My daughters and I have been known to break out singing “It is sad and lonely here/eating prunes and rice/ eating all alone/is not really very nice.”

  7. Sharon Verbeten says:

    Betsy; Your writing is what I aspire to! Love your column. I especially love your comments here about the little basket of cherries! Well put! 🙂