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Mr. Flux: 09/29/13

cover art

Mr. Flux by Kyo Maclear is one of those books that makes me say, "huh?" On the one hand, it's the story of Martin who has a serious problem facing change of any sort and the man who swoops in like Mary Poppins to fix him. On the other hand, it's a weird introduction to the Fluxus avant-garde art movement of the 1960s.

With Odd Duck and now Mr. Flux, there seems to be an epidemic of children stuck in ruts. Children's books seem to have a theme du jour, and I guess it's now "change is good."

Looking at just the plot of Mr. Flux coming to the boring town rescue Martin, his family and his neighbors, the book is pretty standard fair. There's a kid with a problem. It's further enforced by his environment. It takes an outsider to solve the problem and leave the kid and his town in better shape for it.

But there's the whole Fluxus thing. The Fluxus movement was started by George Maciunas and had members such as Yoko Ono and George Brecht. And here's where I start scratching my head. This is a book for third graders. Granted, I knew who Yoko Ono was in third grade, but back then she was hard to avoid. The modern day kid isn't going to know who she is or get the subtle call outs to the art movement and its participants. Nor am I sure their parents will get the connection — maybe their grandparents.

If the point is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fluxus movement, then perhaps a different audience should have been targeted. I can see Mr. Flux fleshed out to a graphic novel length and aimed at young adults.

Three stars

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