Mama Seeton’s Whistle – Perfect Picture Book Friday

18 Sep

Hello everyone! Back for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Extravaganza.

My entry is the hot-off-the-press:

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.28.15 AM

Mama Seeton’s Whistle by Jerry Spinelli (yes, THAT Jerry Spinelli).

It has an old-fashioned look because it’s an old-fashioned memory. And it’s based on Spinelli’s next door neighbor that he knew as a child. I dare say there won’t be a dry adult eye by the end of the book.

So what’s the story?


Mama Seeton’s two-year-old boy, Skippy, isn’t in the back yard when she calls for him. Instead of panicking, she whistles a “simple two-note whistle.” Of course, he’s only two, so it turns out he’s been hiding in the house, eating and sharing cookies from the cookie jar with the family dog. But he just can’t resist the whistle and surprising her, saying he’d been standing behind her all along. Know any kids who’ve done that?

From then on, with Skippy and each subsequent child (there are four), Mama Seeton uses her whistle to call them home. When they hear it, no matter where they are, they head home for dinner—and chocolate cake, of course. Well, these kids get older, and as they roam farther and farther away in the town, they still come home when she whistles.


Because those whistles represent love, a sense of home, and comfort food—especially the love part, because it’s one that travels with them and brings them back no matter where in town they go.

But then those kids really grow up, have careers (fun ones, of course) of their own, and Mama Seeton misses the old days. She still bakes a chocolate cake, but only once a week. And she doesn’t whistle because her children are too far away to come home for dinner.

Mama Seeton gets sadder and sadder, until she finally takes action. 

On the surface, the focus is on Mama Seeton’s feelings and her whistle. But underneath, this story will engage and mean so much more to kids. A physical representation of an unending, unconditional love. That no matter where they go, love (and comfort food) will always be waiting for them at home.

The illustrations of the kids, their adventures, and the family dog as an active but silent presence, will keep kids engaged in a story that will also appeal to parents and grandparents. Sniffle. Sniffle….

Happy reading!

Title:Mama Seeton’s Whistle

Author/Illustrator: Jerry Spinelli/LeUyen Pham

Publisher: Little Brown

Pub Date: 2015

Ages: 2-6

20 Responses to “Mama Seeton’s Whistle – Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. Laurel Leigh September 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Aww, that sounds too adorable!

  2. Patricia Tilton September 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Wow, what a beautiful story. This certainly is a book to treasure. It has so many themes, including aging parents. I want to read this one.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      And I forgot to mention that at least two of the kids end up in interracial marriages. Another positive note. Thanks for stopping by, Patricia!

  3. Carrie Rubin September 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Sounds wonderful, and certainly one I can relate to with the oldest now in college.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

      Yes, one of the guys in my writers group is a new empty nester. He’s having a hard time with it. You still have one at home, so you’ve got a couple of years. 😀

  4. FictionFan September 18, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    Especially the love part? No, surely it’s especially the chocolate cake part! The cats come when I rustle the packet of Dreamies – I try to convince myself it’s because they love me… 😉

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

      I’m thinking the chocolate cake had quite a bit to do with how quickly they came running. 😀

      But the cats! Is it love or is it Dreamies? I’m thinking you shouldn’t ask such leading questions. You might not get the answer you want. Meow…

  5. cricketmuse September 18, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    I met Jerry at a Highlights retreat. He is a warm, down-to-earth person who takes a sincere interest in the person he’s talking to. I will seek this one out.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 18, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

      Quite a treat, I’m thinking, to have met him! I love his work. Yes, do take a look. I think you’ll find it masterful.

      • cricketmuse September 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

        I adore his Star Girl, which is actually modeled after his wife, Eileen, a writer of note (a bit of a loving free spirit).

  6. Barbara Gruener September 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    I love, LoVe, LOVE the sound of this Spinelli treasure. Thank you for your beautiful review.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

      Yes, YeS, YES!! I think you will enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by, Barbara.

  7. Lady Fancifull September 19, 2015 at 5:29 am #

    Sniff, sniff, sob…..drat, wept all over the chocolate cake and it’s gone all soggy

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 19, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Tis a danger that must be faced in this business. Next time, wear a drip guard—or eat the cake before reading.

  8. Joanne Sher September 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    This one looks FABULOUS. Just requested it from the library. THANKS, Jilanne!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 20, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

      Yay! I think you’ll enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by, Joanne!

  9. Sue Heavenrich September 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    aw, this sounds very sweet. And – did you say “chocolate cake”? Definitely on my reading list.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann September 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

      The chocolate cake is what put me over the edge! I think you’ll enjoy it. 😀

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