Mama Seeton’s Whistle – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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

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

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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 thoughts on “Mama Seeton’s Whistle – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. FictionFan says:

    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 says:

      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…

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