Flour Babies (1993) – Anne Fine
If you have no idea what a Carnegie Medal is (admittedly, I didn’t either) have a look here. Additionally, if you are unaware of those who have won a Carnegie Medal (again, I didn’t) have a look here.
I chose a title from the list of winners completely at random, as I hadn’t read any of the novels (bad book-lover).
Flour Babies was written over twenty years ago (holy shit), so whilst I was reading, I repeatedly asked myself, would kids today still enjoy/appreciate this book? Would it have won a Carnegie Medal in 2016?
Yes. Is the simple answer.
I’m reasonably certain that the ‘flour baby’ project isn’t on the curriculum any more – probably due to various health and safety regulations amongst other things – but the feelings and themes derived from this project in the narrative are still very relevant today.
Single parent families, like the family Simon Martin is from, still exist, e.g. this article was written exactly twenty years after publication of Flour Babies.
What begins as a funny, lively narrative with great dialogue (Anne Fine was born and raised in Leicester so we’re treated to some East Midlands dialect, mi duck), finishes as a heart warming, moving tale. The flour babies are the catalyst for Simon’s behaviour, yet by the end of the novel they become the secondary storyline, behind Simon’s growth and maturity regarding his father’s absence.
Flour Babies is a great book to read to children. Kids in a similar situation to Simon will realise that they are not alone, and those who are unaware of what Simon is going through will learn through Anne Fine’s touching, moving – and often charming, novel.
Flour Babies also won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award in 1993 (known as the Costa Book Awards since 2006).