The Fix- it-Man

ISBN  9781925335347   Hardcover Picture Book   EK Books Endorsed by Paradise Kids

It is a challenge to cover the deeper topics in life for young children in a way that is relatable, honest and caring, but Dimity Powell’s The Fix -it-Man sets out to do just that.   Nicky Johnston’s gentle, joyful and equally caring illustrations take the reader through the happy, although sometimes challenging times, in a family that is about to be broken by something that just can’t be fixed.  A double centre spread of predominantly subdued grey father and daughter nestled in a bean bag, is particularly moving, and marks a shift in the narrative from the fix-it- man to a fix- it- girl.  Another especially powerful metaphor for grief in the story is the broken teddy bear, ‘Tiger’ who needs mending.  Our young narrator says, ‘Pieces spill out from Tiger’s heart, as Dad takes him from my hand. ‘I can’t fix him Dad.’ The idea that in the healing process at different times all family members can play a role, and need to care for those still living, is especially powerful.

I can see the book often being used by early childhood educators, psychologists and hospitals as a tool to trigger discussion of how children and parents can find ways to recover from loss, especially how father and daughters can assist each other. But at the same time children will enjoy the journey of a courageous and vivacious little girl who sometimes breaks things precisely because she is so vibrant, and who is lucky to have a kind- hearted Dad who is her hero.  Well done Nicky and Dimity for a simply beautiful contribution to children’s picture books and EK publishing for publishing it.

Book available from all good bookstores.

Dimity will be signing books

Berkelouw Books on the Sunshine Coast, April 22nd, 2017

Dimity Powell – How to Launch a Children’s Book About Loss

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Today’s special guest is Dimity Powell who will share her journey to create the picture book The Fix-it-Man.  

I first met Dimity through an online writing group, where all the participants wrote every Monday morning, and we left messages in a facebook space on our writing progress and challenges.  I then interviewed her by phone for my blog because she seemed so interesting.  Little was I to know that soon I would move from Far North Queensland to Brisbane and finally meet Dimity in person at the CYA conference.  She was up from the Gold Coast for it.

I love this excerpt from her website which sums up what kind of person she is:

“Dimity Powell writes for children because she believes being a kid is one of the coolest things you can be…next to riding dragons and lying under palm trees. She believes in magic and that ice cream tastes divine in any flavour, except maybe rainbow sherbet. She hopes the dozens of stories she’s conjured up over the years will be read by children who love to curl up with books as much as she does.”  Website

Dimity is widely published in anthologies, the creator of digital narratives, and the author of one junior novel,  PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail.  She is a true artist who has devoted herself to  honing her craft of picture book writing, looking for the ‘sweet spot’ in her stories and it is with great delight that I attended the Brisbane launch of her very first picture book, The Fix it Man.

This interview took place a few weeks before the launch of the book.

**

What most inspired you to write a story tackling how a family can deal with loss?

Initially, I didn’t set out to write a story about loss and grief. However, as the story spilled out and the symbolism behind the words became more apparent, I felt it was something a bit special and an important story to tell in spite of the sadness behind a child losing her parent.

What inspired the title?

My husband, the original fix it man, although he was not aware of it at the time. The true-life inspiration for this story came from an incident involving my then infant child whose infinite belief in her father’s ability to fix anything and everything (because he did and still does) forced me to ask the question: what if one day he couldn’t fix something?

What are your favourite lines in the book?

I actually like the opening line – it’s the one that began the creative outpouring for me. I like its naked simplicity and absoluteness. It’s the sort of assured statement that young children often make.

Other lines that particularly resonate with me are the ones about dad breaking too: ‘His lap is cosy and warm but his face is crumpled and wet’. I felt it was important to show that even the omnipotent fix-it man was hurting emotionally and in danger of breaking, too.

Which is probably your favourite illustration in the book?

I have a standout favourite but really all of Nicky’s images cause me to choke with emotion; they are incredibly tender and yet simultaneously powerful. My favourite is the two-page spread of dad bringing cupcakes and peach and honey tea to mama. It’s a poignant statement about mama’s well-being but is also awash with warmth. It was one of the first images from Nicky I laid eyes on and fell instantly in love with. I also adore the images on the final two pages, which exude love and suggest everything will be all right.

sample-page

How long did this picture book take you to write and then to find a publisher for?

Um, how long have you got?! The idea spawned around 2009, and then three years later, I penned the first draft. In 2013, it was shortlisted in the KBR Unpublished Manuscripts Awards. It was then I decided to rework the whole thing under the umbrella of a structured mentorship with Dee White. Then, just after pulling the wheels off the whole jalopy as it were, Anouska Jones from EK Books got in touch. Turns out, it was just the sort of story EK Books was keen to publish, problem was, it was now in shreds. After many discussions, many rewrites, and another year or so, it was finally ready to resubmit.

Apparently, everyone at EK loved it but it caused a few tears. It was never my intention to reduce the whole acquisitions team to a blubbering mess! In spite of getting the green light, I still had to work hard to convince everyone (by everyone, I mean the CEO) that this was a story of substance that would find a place in the hearts of readers everywhere even if they weren’t suffering the kind of loss depicted in the story and was therefore worth publishing. Tenacity and sheer refusal to give up finally won the day. I was offered a contract in June 2015. Essentially, this picture book took nearly as long to come into existence as I’ve been writing professionally!

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How long have you been working on the craft of picture books? What has helped you most in your quest?

Since I began writing professionally for children in 2009. I relish the exacting requirements and unique challenges that set picture book writing slightly apart from other genres. Each time I hear how an accomplished picture book author achieves getting the exact balance of language, rhythm and story helps me with my own writing, however probably one of the best ways to really appreciate this art form in all its various guises, is to simply read picture books, as many as you can, as often as you can. You can learn volumes by simply immersing yourself in them.

Why do you love the picture book genre so much? What do you think it can do that other formats can’t?

I truly feel picture books are the elixir of life. They can entertain, enlighten, and enthral and the good ones educate, all at the same time. They are the first exposure to the marriage of visual literacy, sound and stimulating vocabulary for young children providing essential steppingstones into the world of reading and books that will hopefully last a lifetime. More than that, they provide legitimate, endless opportunities that encourage intimate exchanges between children and their parents or carers, thus reinforcing those relationship bonds. They are meant to be shared; to be heard; to be marvelled at.

A picture book’s ability to take a banal everyday occurrence and transform it into a thing of beauty and wonderment is truly magical. There is no topic too taboo for the picture book medium to address because it can relay them in a safe and nonjudgmental format and as such, I believe they should be embraced and studied by age groups far beyond those they are written for.

page-32rgbHave you tested the book on young audiences and how did they respond?

I’ll let you know after March!

Can you tell us how your launches have gone (as this will be in March) and what it has been like to plan them?

Yes! Planning for them wasn’t so difficult as The Fix-It Man is a picture book rich in symbolism. Nicky and I were able to pull ideas for the launch from the many prompts included in the text and illustrations.

By sheer fluke and coincidence, Nicky and I decided on the same decorations to make, motivated by one of her beautiful images. As with all parties though, the execution of the plans and fine tuning of the details (designing the various flyers, confirming venues, snagging dates and so on) was really the most time consuming thing, albeit hugely enjoyable!

Our intention is simply to share the joy we both experienced in the creation of this book and how much it means to us.

What are you doing at a launch that is about a book about loss?

Ah, a good question given I’m a hopelessly sentimental type prone to weep at the mere rustle of a tissue. So perhaps a song and dance to lighten things up! Really, I plan to launch this book with honesty and sincerity that I hope kids will connect with. There’s not a lot you can do to dress up grief (which is why I used a PowerPoint presentation as a visual back up) but you don’t need to be maudlin about it either.

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Thank you so  much for this insight into your creative processes and your motivation for writing this book  Dimity.

Fix-It- Man is available at all good bookstores! 

(Dimity Powell, author, June Perkins (owner of this book!), Nicky Johnston- illustrator)

Note: The launch was just beautiful.  May be writing a more detailed account of it when I have a chance with my mobile phone pictures! In brief: there was a fun introduction by Peter Carnavas about everything we could have been at, followed by Dimity giving a story power point about the writing of the book complete with a picture of the author and illustrator by Nicky and a sharing of the story board.  This was followed by Dimity reading the book, complete with support tissue giver outer from the audience and two other helpers (one to fly kites!) and one with a puppet. Then Nicky spoke about the journey from her perspective.  And of course there was the signing of the book and lots of chats with those gathered.  Dimity’s sister, and mum and Dad were there and it was lovely to meet them.  A well done launch!

You can catch up with Dimity at the following upcoming events!

 

Where in the World – How to Create Sensational Story Settings

April 5th  10-11am

Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop

191 Boundary St, West End, Brisbane

TO BOOK

 

Riverbend Books Kids’ Reading and Craft with Dimity Powell

April 8th  10.30 -14.00

Riverbend Books

193 Oxford Street, Bulimba, Queensland, Australia

 

For More Visit the Following Links

Dimity Powell Facebook

Dimity Powell Website

The Fix-it-Man

Blog Blasting The Fix-it-Man

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Welcome to my contribution to the The Fix-it-Man blog blast!

You can find more sneak peak posts  and sneak reviews TODAY at all the following super cool online spaces where people review and interview authors.

 

The Fix- it-Man, by Dimity Powell, illustrated by Nicky Johnston  

Reviewed by June Perkins

ISBN 9781925335347 Hardcover Picture Book EK Books. Endorsed by Paradise Kids, Reccomended retail price $24.99

It is a challenge to cover the deeper topics in life for young children in a way that is relatable, honest and caring, but Dimity Powell’s  The Fix -it-Man sets out to do just that.

Nicky Johnston’s gentle joyful and equally caring illustrations take the reader through the happy although sometimes challenging times in a family that is about to be broken by something that just can’t be fixed. A double centre spread of predominantly subdued grey  colours depicting a father and daughter nestled in a bean bag, is particularly moving, and marks a shift in the narrative from the fix-it-man to a fix-it-girl.

Another especially powerful metaphor for grief in the story is the broken teddy bear, ‘Tiger’ who needs mending. Our young narrator says, ‘Pieces spill out from Tiger’s heart, as Dad takes him from my hand. ‘I can’t fix him Dad.’

(Extract from upcoming review: for the rest visit this blog in April and also watch out for a moving interview with the compassionate Dimity Powell).

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You can meet Dimity at the launch or visit her website  Dimity Powell’s Website

Sorry Poem – Miranda speaks to her lost child

Continuing the story of Miranda and Jackson. Miranda is able to say goodbye to her lost child.

Ripple Poetry

giftsofnature

i am sorry
my lost one
that choosing a name for you has taken so long
it’s just we had to find it for you
when we were swimming in the butterfly tears

i thought
i knew it before you were born
but we you were here and gone so soon
the name we’d picked didn’t seem to fit you
not just right

i thought we needed a name
that said something about
where you were going
and where you came from
perhaps two names side by side
to keep each other company

so it was that Nevaeh
meaning heaven came into my mind
and then Tuwa from Hopi
meaning Earth

i wish you could have felt the earth
beneath your bare feet
just once
so you could remember it

so my little butterfly girl
Tuwa Nevaeh
may your flight
from earth to heaven
be a flight
from the cocoon…

View original post 102 more words

Bali Remembrance

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Lotus – June Perkins

Remembering long ago, ten years to be exact, before innocence was erased in a single night

A young boy says a prayer to his father – he was only two when he departed
His words translated by a lady by his side

A lady up front in a hat and dark glasses bows her head
as the tears stream down

A father speaks of a lost daughter.

Both our Prime Ministers, one of then and one of now
give their respects and speak of connection between Indonesia and Australia
strengthened and not lost

Young people and others still come to enjoy the hospitality of Bali
the sun, the warmth, the colour, the gentle peacefulness

They will carry on democracy, peace and understanding
they will not turn away from Bali

Blessings are given from Mary McKillop
candles are lit from many religions
people clap prayers to release emotion
yet all is still, reverential and respectful

All the nations affected are read out

Names of each person are read out
Abby, Daniel, Christopher, Bettina, Chloe,
Anthony, Rebecca, Jodie
Katut, Jane, Paul, Donna, Francois,
Sylvia, Shane, Norbert, Angela, Megan, Andrea, Marna- so many names

So many connections in a single name,
missed family events, graduations
empty chairs at tables, time has passed

Photos are held by family in the crowd
fanning themselves in the heat
there to honour the fallen

A minutes silence and the universe spins
Amazing Grace sung by a choir in rainbow colours
To bring peace to the inner journey
Of those on pilgrimage for loved ones

And the young boy who lost his mother’s words
Will be remembered
He will make her dreams come true
The ones she had for him as her young son.

Amazing how we can be in Bali in our living rooms and yet see a service   miles away for those who lost their families.

As I watch the memorial now, John Williamson is up to sing a song he has written ‘ Flower on the Water’.  I am lucky enough to have heard him sing live.   He is speaking of Aussies, surfboards and flowers, and the first memorial for Bali he was at.  This will be something special, he has written a song for the day.

I love the gift song writers can bring.

‘All we can do is throw a flower on the water

look for the sun through the rain

..remember how we love you’

A final prayer and floral tributes are about the be laid in the remembrance pool by dignatories and families of those who lost someone.

The coverage is left, and families are given their privacy, and back to the world outside of Bali remembrance.

For moving stories of survivors visit this link where  AUSTRALIAN SURVIVORS tell their stories and this link for a story about children who lost their parents

Bali’s Children Reunited.