Apr 2, 2013

Mr. Flux

Mr. Flux (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.


  1. I loved your review of the book! It was my first full length children's book. I have been primarily a painter for 20 years.I do illustration work for companies on occasion but am always happy to return to what I do. Making this book may have been one of the hardest and rewarding things I have had the pleasure doing. Kyo and the folks at Kids Can have been so great to work with.
    I am like Martin myself and rarely collaborate with others and love making my paintings and living in my own little bubble. I too am a fan of Isabelle's illustration and it was one of my main concerns when they asked me to illustrate this book. Her work is so fantastic and she has such command over it and seems to be able to realize anything in her illustrations. I knew going into this book that Virginia Wolf would be hard to follow. She is supremely talented
    I am a little different . I think of everything I do as a kindergarden art project because I think that is were my talent is. I love simplicity and funny shapes and one line jokes. I can only do things one way which is flat . My love for painting goes far beyond the talent I posses. It has always been a way of communication for me since I was small. It has been the only think I have done in my life. Thank you again for the lovely review! Matte Stephens

    1. Thank you so much for your comment- and for your book which has brought us much joy! I hope that it is just the first of many picture books!


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