Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: EB & FLOW by Kelly J. Baptist
Introduction by Heavy Medal Award Committee Member Michelle Lettus:
Eb and Flow got into a fight and now they have ten days of suspension to think about what happened. To Eb, Flow overreacted when she accidentally scuffed up his shoes and he called her a bad name. She can’t just let that go so she slaps Flow. This will be her eighth time being suspended for fighting. To Flow, those sneakers were a special gift from someone important and Eb just went and ruined them. He wasn’t the one who called Eb any names so when she slaps him, his anger just takes over and he hits her back. No one is more shocked than Flow.
What Baptist has done well is she has created two characters who do have some things in common but are also extremely different. In a different book, the punishment for fighting would have been to spend time and learn about each other. However, Eb & Flow spend little time together throughout the story, and as a reader, you may wonder how these two are ever going to resolve their differences. It’s realistic that after being suspended, they will not see each other. They are not friends and do not have friends in common. Eb & Flow grow individually as they deal with their families’ disappointment, and friends’ opinions, and reflect on what happened. Flow has a lot to lose by getting suspended. He wants to go to a school with a swim team, but he needs to have good grades and stay out of trouble. Eb is lost and keeps getting into fights. The adults in her life are all overwhelmed or not around, and she is on her own.
The side characters play an important role. Eb’s mom is not around, and her dad is in the military, so she lives with her grandmother, sisters, brother, nephew, and sometimes her cousin. Eb’s grandmother grows as a character when she finally puts her foot down with her family. Flow lives with his mom and sister who he loves. His father is away in the military and is an important figure in Flow’s life. Flow’s uncle is an important figure in the family. His brother doesn’t live with them. Eb and Flow’s friends also influence them in positive and negative ways. Baptist does a great job of showing how who you are around can impact what you think and believe.
Heavy Medal Award Committee members and others are now invited to discuss this book further in the Comments section below. Let the Mock Newbery discussion begin!
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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