Author Dimity Powell & Illustrator Nicky Johnston
The Fix It Man is a heart-felt and joyful story. It tenderly looks at the early stages of grief. The portrayal of a young girl who believes her Dad can fix anything sets up this delightful picture book. No matter the problem or how many of those ‘It was an accident!’ scenarios, Dad is always at the ready. His constant quiet presence allows the family to deal with what will lay ahead. The illustrations reinforce the extent of what everyday things can be fixed – unlike Mum as onlooker. Whilst we’re drawn to the centre-stage action, it’s Mum’s watching of the playful laughing, gluing and fixing scenes that adds another layer of meaning. And when Mum no longer watches, we begin to understand what her absence symbolises.
Even the realisation that Dad can’t fix absolutely every single thing, whilst it saddens the little girl, it allows the reader time to empathise. When the illustrations begin to quieten the characters, soften the lighting and dampen the mood, you register what’s unfixable. In the final few scenes my heart lightens once again. At this point you grasp the meaning of Mum’s special rug, which Dad ‘stitched together with rainbows and old hugs’. Its symbolism of warmth and love will always remind them – they’re still a family. The endpapers also reinforce the tangible things – fixed and unfixed – minus the intangible.
However, as you continue to revisit this story, you’ll take comfort in its healing power. The co-authors’* crafts are much appreciated in handling the sensitivity of grief and a hurting heart with empathy, tenderness and love.
Congratulations to Dimity Powell for the power of words which inspired Nicky Johnston’s empowering illustrations.
*co-authors – creators of word and picture narratives
Life’s too short, to take on the world, without good books. MPB