Flour Babies

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Overview

Eleven days into The Great Flour Baby Experiment, the rest of the boys in Room 8 - the classroom for underachievers and troublemakers - are ready to drop-kick their six-pound flour "babies" into the creek, but not Simon. He's keeping his flour baby clean and dry, maintaining its weight, and never, never leaving its side, even if the rest of the class thinks he's crazy.

Maybe he is. But Simon's flour baby is helping Simon figure out his own life - why his father walked out on ...

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Overview

Eleven days into The Great Flour Baby Experiment, the rest of the boys in Room 8 - the classroom for underachievers and troublemakers - are ready to drop-kick their six-pound flour "babies" into the creek, but not Simon. He's keeping his flour baby clean and dry, maintaining its weight, and never, never leaving its side, even if the rest of the class thinks he's crazy.

Maybe he is. But Simon's flour baby is helping Simon figure out his own life - why his father walked out on him, and how strong his mother is, raising him alone. In fact, Simon might not be able to give up his flour baby as the day of the giant, glorious Flour Free-for-All approaches....

When his class of underachievers is assigned to spend three torturous weeks taking care of their own "babies" in the form of bags of flour, Simon makes amazing discoveries about himself while coming to terms with his long-absent father.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Flour babies are the six-pound sacks of flour that the boys in Room 8--the classroom for underachievers and behavioral problems at the St. Boniface School --have been told to treat as real babies for three weeks, for the purposes of scientific inquiry. They are to keep the flour babies ``clean and dry at all times,'' to maintain their proper weight ``Flour babies will be put on the official scales twice a week to check for any weight loss'', and never, never to leave their side, unless ``a responsible babysitter can be arranged.'' But while Robin Delaney has drop-kicked his flour baby into the creek, burly Simon Martin experiences a true tenderness toward his. He keeps ``her'' safe during soccer practice, even though he gets kicked off the team in the process. Simon writes in his journal each day ``reproductions'' of the entries appear here, he finds himself excited and involved in school for the first time; he simultaneously discovers a new appreciation for his mother and confronts previously buried feelings about his absent father. Fine Alias Mrs. Doubtfire writes with delicious wit and delicate sympathy. She takes a down-to-earth scenario and, like her protagonist, turns it into an extraordinary adventure in living and learning. Ages 10-up. May
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Well, perhaps I exaggerate but a class of underachieving teenage boys is expected to learn responsibility by taking care of their Flour babies for 3 weeks. Simon, one of the least capable boys, develops a real fondness for his baby. She's a good listener and she starts him thinking about being a parent and wondering why his father walked out on him when he was a baby. The other boys decide that "if people had the faintest idea what a bother babies are, no one would ever have one." All the boys are unique and their comments and hi-jinx add to the hilarity and the reality of the situation. Winner of the Carnegie Medal in England.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-This new novel by the author of Alias Madame Doubtfire (Little, 1988) is certain to be a hit. One can even envision Robin Williams in the role of Mr. Cassidy, teacher of Room 8, which houses the 19 boys who are the Sads and the Bads at St. Boniface School. These boys, who ``have the boredom thresholds of brain-damaged gnats,'' choose as their science project The Great Flour Baby Experiment: each takes full-time responsibility for a six lb. bag of white flour, with instructions to keep it dry, safe from harm, and absolutely mud-free. All rapidly lose patience with the project-all, that is, but Simon Martin, who goes ``moon-eyed'' over his flour baby. Simon not only learns of the immense yet often tedious responsibilities of parenthood, but also comes to a deeper understanding of his own father's absence and an appreciation of his mother's plight as a single parent. Eve Bunting's Our Sixth Grade Sugar Babies (Lippincott, 1990) swaps sugar for flour and is written for a younger audience, yet is based on a similar idea. But, while the premise isn't new, Fine's treatment of the subject, a wonderful blend of hilarity and poignancy, makes the book an outstanding one. The author has a real understanding of adolescents-indeed, of human nature in general. Her characters are finely drawn; even the most amusing never become caricatures, but rather are fully realized and memorable.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Stephanie Zvirin
A hulk of a lad with a reputation for mischief, Simon Martin is as unenthusiastic as his English boys' school classmates at the prospect of learning about parenting by carrying around and writing about a flour baby, a six-pound bag of flour. Even Mr. Cassidy, the boys' beleaguered teacher, has his doubts about the task as a viable school project, especially for the obstreperous boys in Room 8. However, when Simon (mistakenly) concludes that the three-week experiment will end with a glorious classroom flour free-for-all, he can't wait to take part. Once into the task, though, he discovers it's not the promise of an avalanche of white stuff that keeps him involved but rather what caring for the flour bundle forces him to face about himself and the dad who walked out when Simon was a baby. There's no mistaking Fine's underlying theme (she's not a bit subtle), but it's couched in such splendid, trenchant humor--spiffy one-liners, funny, well-devised characters, and hilarious situations--that the story simply flies along. It's easy to laugh when Simon pours his heart out to a bag of flour or scolds his usually mild-mannered friend for launching his "baby" into the local drink. But best of all is Fine's final vivid image of gleeful Simon, cloaked in flour and newfound wisdom: He has figured out that his dad no longer matters--"only the people who know you really count." A poignant, gloriously funny book with a strong message for readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440219415
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 178
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2003

    Decent book, worth a read

    This is an interesting book that definitely reflects on real life and is worth a read. However, the book is slightly dragged down by the ending which is confusing and rather forced. Otherwise, give this book a chance because it isn't all too bad.This book is probably more appealing to those younger than my age group, but I had to read this book as part of a class project.

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