Fly is the sixth book from the exquisitely talented Jess McGeachin. McGeachin writes and illustrates as if he was born to do so. His illustrations are gentle and spirited, including intricate details that you wouldn’t expect to see in a children’s book which contribute greatly to the story. A broken window and a make-shift clothes line to create a sense of place; a subtly framed photo of the family showing mum was in a wheel chair; use of colour to reflect the changing emotions of the storyline.
Fly is a story about a little girl called Lucy who has recently lost her mum and is now alone with dad. She finds a broken baby bird and decides to take it under her wing, exemplifying the emotional responsibility children often take upon themselves to ‘fix’ and mend problems in their home lives. Lucy clearly feels if she can just help the baby bird fly again, all will be right in the world. She builds an aeroplane in the hopes that her baby bird will still be able to have ‘flight’. Her tenacity and determination are heart-warming, particularly when Lucy manages to take off.
At the forefront, the story is about learning that you can’t always fix things when they are broken. However, the story also tackles deeper messages of coping with grief, mortality and the emotions of those we love. It is a rare children’s book that will tackle such emotional themes. There is also a message of animal welfare throughout.
Interestingly, Fly is an iconically Australian book: illustrating rural landscapes and chickens in the backyard of their little wooden house. However, when Lucy starts to fly, in parallel to the story becoming make believe, the sky fills with multi-coloured birds from all over the world, branching out from the purely native wildlife we have seen before. This is a gorgeous juxtaposition between reality and native Australian wildlife and fantasy and exotic birds.
Fly is a metaphor for Lucy learning to fly and be joyful again in her world after the loss of her mum. McGeachin takes us on the adventure through Lucy’s experience which is truly beautiful and will warm the hearts of all readers.
About the author
Jess McGeachin is a writer/illustrator/designer based in Melbourne. He loves telling stories about hidden worlds just outside our own, and hiding clues in them for small eyes to find. Drawing on a love of natural history (and a day job at Melbourne Museum) Jess hopes that his stories inspire the reader to explore both real and imaginary places and meet the characters that live in them. www.jessmcgeachin.com/about/