Winner 2019 Percy Janes First Novel Award
"It was just a run-of-the-mill, garden-variety trip to the supermarket. But everything changes when middle-aged, luck-starved Henry Puddester finds a baby in his shopping cart. Naturally, he panics and bolts, preferring the fire to the frying pan and an odyssey strewn with wild scenes and wacky characters. Award-winning writer and masterful storyteller, Susan Flanagan, has penned a memorable tale filled with humour and heart, and... Henry." Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
Supermarket Baby has “excellent comic timing. I wonder if the author has worked in sketch comedy. Excellent grasp of narrative structure and how to keep a story moving along…I often hooted with laughter…” Adjudication notes for the 2019 Percy Janes award.
“Susan’s writing has always impressed me with its energy and humour, as well as its intense and intricate plotting… (Supermarket Baby) is full of original characters and situations, and ingenious interweaving plot lines. Supermarket Baby has the potential... to make a significant impact on the literary scene both regionally and beyond.” Paul Butler, author The Widow's Fire
Henry takes a closer look
The baby contraption called for further investigation. Henry couldn’t piece it together; why would someone put an infant carrier in his shopping cart?
It was his cart. The Triscuits were there. The yogurt was there. A sleep-deprived mother must have mistaken his cart for hers.
He looked around again, but still saw no motherly types. He studied his cart to see if anything else had changed.
What was this?
Instead of bananas and lettuce, there were now diapers and wipes.
What on earth was going on? What had the cart thief done with his hand-chosen pears?
He looked around again, but still saw no motherly types. Besides the five oddballs he had seen earlier, he now noticed a man with a flat cap, like the ones British cabbies wore, crouched in front of the ice cream cones. The posse of new Canadians was moving through the bulk section. But still no mother.
Henry bent lower so he could peep under the cloth. An oval flap was Velcroed to the canopy preventing a view of the contents. The flap was made of the same sunflower-patterned material as the rest of the tented area. He was familiar with this configuration from when Dash was born. Henry had to put down the eggs before he could gently pull back the Velcro to allow a sightline into the carrier. A whiff of baby powder escaped the cloth walls. The infant inside – a girl, judging from the pink hat and blanket that enveloped it – opened its oversized eyes and started to quiver. Next thing it was whimpering. Henry could tell from past experience that this was the build-up to a full-fledged cry. He had to act fast, survey the scene. Rubber pacifier was attached to the baby blanket by a tether. Henry grabbed hand sanitizer from his pocket, doused both hands, and quickly plugged the dummy into the baby’s mouth. The baby looked worried, but did what babies are programmed to do; it started sucking.
Henry had no time to ponder his next move. An ear-piercing shriek, sounding as if it were emitted from a mature female, was followed by: My Baby. My Baby’s gone.
For a few seconds, time stood still. Animation was suspended. Until the large glass container held by Madame Red Coat slipped from her hands. The jar smashed into a zillion pieces. Bread and butter pickles oozed as far as Henry’s boots. Chunks of glass held together by the glue on the label bounced off his toe.
“Jumping Jesus in the Garden.” Henry abandoned the cart, tripped over the eggs and sprinted towards the exit.