Tracy Curran, also known as The Breadcrumb Forest, has delved into Jenny Moore’s upcoming Middle Grade fiction, Bauble, Me and the Family Tree. Coming 28th September!
Noel is used to his unusual family set-up: him, Mum, super-brainy little sister Bauble, and his gay uncles (both called Mike) next door. But when Bauble spots Mum kissing Santa Claus in August everything Noel thought he knew about his family is turned upside-down. Who’s the mysterious ‘F’ sending Mum romantic postcards? Why has she started taking weird photos of people in food bikinis? And, even though he’s clearly not Santa, might Dad still be alive after all?
Bauble, Me and the Family Tree packs an emotional, heartfelt punch right from the get-go. Although it is not unusual for main characters in children’s fiction to have lost one or both parents, this whole novel explores the grief and impact that such a loss can cause. Noel’s early memory of his mum holding his baby sister under the wishing bow is both raw and heart-wrenching, as is his blind hope that his father is still alive. Jenny Moore shows through a child’s eyes how the sadness of losing a loved one never fades and woven through the chapters are some truly touching and beautifully written moments (and letters).
Aside from grief, the novel also takes a deep dive into ‘unconventional’ family set-ups, portraying the very important message that a family filled with love is all that matters. Noel and Bauble are faced with a backlash of secrets – kept by flawed but well-meaning adults- and embark on a painful, emotional rollercoaster to uncover the truth. Yet out of the darkness comes light and new beginnings with the promise of a hopeful, if not ‘normal’ future – and one that thousands of young readers will be able to relate to.
And if that all sounds a bit heavy, then think again because Jenny Moore does quirkiness by the bucket load. Okay, so there may not be the odd combination of nappy pins and baked beans in this one (see Agent Starling) but there is a healthy dose of food bikinis, Santa hats…oh and eight-legged races (I lost count!) to finish.
This novel stirs emotion and empathy. It makes you laugh and then cry with the turn of a page. I love the child-centred perspective too. It feels like a child is writing for other children with a deep authenticity and the relationship between Noel and Bauble is great. It is a big-issue book told with heart, soul, humour and complete originality.