CAN, JP, US, INT)
Written by: Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by: Matte Stephens
Published by: Kids Can Press
Published on: April 1, 2013
Stand back Cat in the Hat. There's a new eccentric visitor in town.
Martin is a boy after my own heart. He lives in a place where things stay the same, and he thinks he likes it that way.
Until one day a new neighbour shows up and throws Martin's predictable life into flux. It starts with a box Martin delivers, the polite boy he is. This box is a harbinger of change (literally and figuratively). Mr. Flux and Martin bond over art they produce, and spur other people around them to make little and big changes to their lives. Will Martin's life forever be altered due to his association with his new neighbour?
Martin not only learns about change, but about courage. Facing change takes courage, it's not always easy. My son really related to this part of the book as he is going through some big changes at the moment, entering elementary school and having his entire daily routine upended. Every kid has to deal with change at some point and Martin can inspire them to deal with that change with aplomb.
International Book Day is today, April 2. This is the perfect book with which to celebrate as it has everything that the ideal picture book does; great writing, original characters, quirky illustrations, and multiple layers great for drawing in readers of all ages.
"Mr. Flux showed Martin that other artists made things people didn't see as art but that could still make you feel wonderful." It's never too early for kids to think about art in their lives and what makes art. Between this simple sentence and Stephens' portrayals of all kinds of art, you have a philosophy lesson and a number of art lessons inside a fantastic picture book. My kids recreated the "shoes outside the window" installation - and their giggles tell me it felt wonderful!
My deep and abiding love for all things Kyo Maclear is pretty clear to regular readers of this blog. But I too am like Martin and it is hard for me to accept change. I am used to her words being paired with the beauty of Isabelle Arsenault's artwork (as in Spork and Virginia Wolf, which was my number 1 favourite book of 2012). Like Martin learned, it's okay to change things up sometimes. Stephens' gouache illustrations are a wonderful tribute to the Fluxus movement and other artists who brought big changes to the art world (including Marcel Duchamp, whose Fountain of 1917 is included in 2D form in the book as well), but in his own unique style (which you can check out on Etsy, where he sells prints of his work - I love when picture book illustrators do this!!!).
Go, make a change from the usual picture books you read, and get inspired by Mr. Flux and the intrepid Martin.