cover image Flour Babies

Flour Babies

Anne Fine. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (178pp) ISBN 978-0-316-28319-9

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)