The FIX IT Man
Illustrated by: Nicky Johnston
Published by: EK Books, Imprint of Exisle Pub Pty Ltd 2017
Ages: 4 -8 years
Theme: grief, loss, resilience
Opening Lines: My dad can fix anything. It’s what dads do. He’s handy with a hammer when my furniture falls apart. He’s nifty with a needle and thread, can untangle knots I can’t.
Synopsis: From Amazon: It’s handy having a dad who can fix just about anything. A young girl believes her father is the king of fixing things. But following the death of her mother, she discovers that broken hearts are not as easy to repair as damaged toys and cracked teapots. Together, she and her father find a way to glue back the pieces of her lives. The Fix-It Man is a poignant picture book that explores how a child can cope with the loss of a parent (in this case, the young girl’s mother). Repairing damaged emotions is not as straightforward as gluing a broken kite back together or sewing up a torn toy. And grief affects all members of a family, with each responding in their own way to the loss. By sticking with her father, the young girl is able to strengthen her resilience and ability to cope with one of life’s harshest experiences. The author was encouraged to seek publication for this story after receiving the endorsement of several grief counselors who work with children and who recognized the need for a book such as this.
Why I like this: Little girls know that the best person who can fix – well almost anything, is their Dads. The cover of this book is gorgeous with a little girl being carried on her father’s back. She is obviously having fun and its warm colours beg to be picked up. The sparse well-chosen words leave much for the illustrator. One of the beautiful sentences is… “Mama watches from her rug, the one Dad stitched together from rainbows and old hugs.” Isn’t that beautiful? In the spread …”She can’t be fixed by doctors or peach and honey tea. Mama can’t be fixed with lots of rest or even by Dad … or me.” You can feel the pain she is feeling of losing her mum. The next page is a full illustrated spread of her and dad curled up on a beanbag wrapped in a blanket staring at the window. The colours are pale grey. It’s obvious without any words that her mother has passed away. In the next pages she tries to keep some normality, even painting her dad’s toenails and folding the washing very aware her dad is broken. But it’s not till she cries because her teddy’s stuffing is coming out and she needs him to fix it that he once again becomes her Mr-Fix-It man. While the illustrations are of pixy looking figures with minimal detail it is the positions that the little girl takes, such as resting on her elbow while watching her Dad, that make it endearing. A serious topic written tenderly of grief and heartbreak and the discovery that love is the best glue of all.
Resources/Findings: Author’s website… https://dimitypowell.com/
From the author’s website… teacherable notes… https://dimitypowell.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/TEACHERS-Notes-V-2-TFIM-with-Book-trailer-Dec-2016.pdf
Recommended companion book for kids on loss, grief … https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Invisible-String-Patrice-Karst/9780316486231?redirected=true&utm_medium=Google&utm_campaign=Base1&utm_source=NZ&utm_content=The-Invisible-String&selectCurrency=NZD&w=AF7CAU9S4Y7LH4A8VCC9&pdg=pla-304337923643:cmp-8702409092:adg-89047769258:crv-408427422168:pos-:dev-c&gclid=Cj0KCQjw6_vzBRCIARIsAOs54z44MjG89m7VXm2geCvz2c_5TXfrkfSvUOSDbEbDLT7jSB3ctbi0cKIaAgvKEALw_wcB
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