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Mrs. Biddlebox

Mrs. Biddlebox

by Linda Smith, Marla Frazee (Illustrator)

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On a knotty little hill,
In a dreary little funk,
Mrs. Biddlebox rolled over
On the wrong side
of her bunk.

Mrs. Bidalebox is having a really bad day. The birds are screeching, her belly is grumbling, and even her crumpets are stale. What is she to do? Then, suddenly, Mrs. Biddlebox has the most bewitching idea!

With a pinch of magic and just the


On a knotty little hill,
In a dreary little funk,
Mrs. Biddlebox rolled over
On the wrong side
of her bunk.

Mrs. Bidalebox is having a really bad day. The birds are screeching, her belly is grumbling, and even her crumpets are stale. What is she to do? Then, suddenly, Mrs. Biddlebox has the most bewitching idea!

With a pinch of magic and just the right amount of humor, Linda Smith and Marla Frazee have whipped up an enchantingly original tale that will charm anyone who's ever woken up on the wrong side of the bunk.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gloomy feelings dont stand a chance in this snappy picture book about a woman who kicks a dreary little funk with her can-do spirit. When Mrs. Biddlebox wakes up on the wrong side of her bunk, the morning looks gray: The birds gave her a headache./ There were creakies in her chair. With only some bitter tea and some hard-to-chew crumpets for breakfast, Mrs. Biddlebox quickly decides to set things to rights the best way she knows: I will cook this rotten morning/ I will turn it into cake! Her off-the-cuff recipe calls for whisking the dark and dull clouds, fog and all into a great pot before shaping it into a crumbly delight. Satiated by her sweet treat, Mrs. Biddlebox toddles off for a restful night s sleep. In the rhyming text inspired by the late Smith s (When Moon Fell Down) battle with cancer, positive thinking prevails, setting off a satisfying chain of events. The jaunty rhythm of Smith s words captures the energy of her protagonist s out-of-the-box thinking and sheer determination. Young readers may well come away with a new zeal for their own endeavors. Frazee (The Seven Silly Eaters) uses pencil lines and cross-hatching to dramatic effect in depicting Mrs. Biddlebox s dark surroundings. Swirls of white and spindly gold-yellow let the sun in at just the right moment. Memorable scenes include a spread featuring the ample-bottomed baker dancing around the oven, her frizzy pigtail bopping along. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Have you ever gotten up on the wrong side of bed? This book begins with the line, "On a grubby little hill, in a dreary little funk, Mrs. Biddlebox rolled over on the wrong side of the bunk." Mrs. Biddlebox is having a very bad day, until she comes up with a bewitching solution to the terrible weather outside. She decides, "I will cook this rotten morning! I will turn it into cake." Soon, Mrs. Biddlebox is busy gathering dirt, shadows, fog, and even a ray of sunlight. She rolls the sky like a carpet and mixes it into her cake. She blends the batter and stomps on it with witchety delight. To her amazement, the cake turns out to be delicious and she enjoys eating it. That night, Mrs. Biddlebox opens her window to the world and sleeps soundly. Filled to the brim with magic, humor and poetry, Mrs. Biddlebox's story is guaranteed to enchant children of all ages. Marla Frazee's illustrations are a perfect accompaniment, casting a spell over all audiences. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
"A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" might characterize the situation of this bewitching picture book. While Judith Viorst's classic depiction of a bad day is set realistically, Linda Smith's glimpse is quirkily far flung. Marla Frazee's illustrations extend the text with her own fantastic interpretation of a simply written text of extraordinary events. The story centers on the awakening of a fairy tale character, Mrs. Biddlebox, named for her unusual dwelling. What is a biddlebox? No definition except the spare fact that it exists on a "knotty little hill." The illustrations offer a structure while allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the frame. My sense is that "biddle" is a takeoff of "bid," suggesting an invitation, plea, or wheel-and-deal. "Biddy" is a colloquialism for an elderly woman, usually "old biddy." So perhaps this is an old woman with certain powers to persuade. How does an old biddy cope with waking up on the wrong side of the bed "in a dreary little funk"? Well, first, more bad news: annoying bird noises, creaking chair, and breezily disheveled hair. Her immediate response was to slam the door on the day as she sat with her bitter tea and uneatable crumpets. Eureka! An inspiration to change things: turn the rotten day into cake. Reminiscent of the proverb, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade," Mrs. Biddlebox readies her resources to gather up the gloom. Each piece of her property, inside and out, is transformed through her labors. The results are spellbinding and spectacular. My favorite page is the double spread where the hero dances and prances, encircling the stove in which her sweets are baking. After the rapture of "a belly full of crumblies,"she welcomes the night and ends this traumatic, dramatic day. The last image is of a tiny house on a hill with swirls of pastel clouds lightening the dark, consoling and gratifying the wide-eyed reader. The jacket notes indicate that this book was the author's last, as she died after a battle with breast cancer. This knowledge imbues the tale with more poignancy and suggests its mythic matter. Well done, Mrs. Biddlebox. All is well. 2002, HarperCollins,
— Anne Lundin
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Poor Mrs. Biddlebox gets up on the wrong side of the bunk. In the throes of a "dreary little funk," she has an idea: "I will cook this rotten morning!/I will turn it into cake!/I will fire up my oven!/I will set the day to bake!" She gathers up the gloom and after twirling fog like spaghetti and rolling up the sky like carpeting, she bakes the entire bad day and eats it. "Now with her belly full of crumblies/And her nighty cap pulled tight,/She threw the door wide open/And welcomed in the night!" Frazee's dramatic illustrations slather the pages in black and gray with subtle color highlights and eerie swirls of white. If gloom and doom have a face, this could be it. However, the depictions are not without humor. Mrs. B. is a determined little witch with a great shock of frizzled ponytail. She gleefully struts around the baking bad day and devours it greedily. While the book looks like a Halloween title, its overarching theme is one of empowerment by facing one's troubles squarely.-Mary Ann Carcich, Mattituck-Laurel Public Library, Mattituck, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Features pinched, frizzy hair floating like a cloud of concentrated gloom overhead, entirely surrounded by great, dark angry swirls of color, old Mrs. Biddlebox has definitely gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. But rather than just grump around, she marches off to gather up dirt and shadows, twirl the fog around her broomstick like oversized cobwebs, roll up the lowering sky, stir in a sunbeam, pour it all into a pan, and bake the day into a delicious cake. Smith's posthumous text displays the animated rhythm and rhyme of her debut, When The Moon Fell Down; Frazee (Everywhere Babies, 2001, etc.) gets not only Mrs. Biddlebox's evil mood just right, but her ultimate "witchety delight" too as, with a full belly, she throws open her window (a door in the verse, but let's not quibble) to a moonlit night aswirl, this time, with flower-like stars. If Betsy Everitt's Mean Soup (1992) isn't filling enough, dish up this tempting dessert. (Picture book. 6-8)
From the Publisher
"Witty, original, and impeccably executed, this read-aloud may well transform a case of the grouchies into a fit of the giggles."—FamilyFun Magazine

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.79(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

LINDA SMITH was "Mrs. Biddlebox" during her two-year battle with breast cancer. She died on June 28, 2000, but left behind a world of language, love, and good humor that shines through her picture books.

MARLA FRAZEE has illustrated many beloved picture books, including Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild! by Mem Fox, as well as her own Roller Coaster. She lives in Pasadena, California.

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