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Mr. Flux

Mr. Flux

4.5 2
by Maclear, Stephens (Illustrator)

Martin and his neighbors eschew change until eccentric Mr. Flux moves in and shows them that change can be big or little or even fit inside a box, and not at all scary. A tongue-in-cheek tale loosely inspired by the 1960s art movement known as Fluxus.


Martin and his neighbors eschew change until eccentric Mr. Flux moves in and shows them that change can be big or little or even fit inside a box, and not at all scary. A tongue-in-cheek tale loosely inspired by the 1960s art movement known as Fluxus.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mr. Flux, Maclear (Virginia Wolf) explains in a note, is modeled on George Maciunas, who founded the Fluxus art movement in the 1960s. This story’s Mr. Flux brings change to a boy named Martin and to Martin’s stodgy neighborhood, which has a “fixed number of trees, dogs, cats and cars.” The artist stays around just long enough to introduce the idea of playful freedom from routine (“Shall we spin toy rabbits on my record player?”) before introducing a bigger change: he moves away, leaving Martin with new perspective and a special gift. Debut illustrator Stephens’s elegant retro spreads in milky hues create an atmosphere of urbanity throughout. He models Mr. Flux on a self-portrait of Maciunas wearing a bowler hat and a monocle, and even the houses that are supposed to be monotonous are charming. Maclear does state things a bit flat-footedly in case readers don’t get the message (“Change is upsetting,” Martin tells Mr. Flux, “and we like things just the way they are”), but it’s still a useful, low-key introduction to the liberating impulses of the ’60s. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Martin knows nothing about change; he lives a predictable life in a predictable place. But one day a man named Mr. Flux, who loves change, arrives and begins mixing things up. When Martin finds a large wooden box labeled "Property of Mr. Flux," he of course tries to return it, but is told it is "full of change" and he should keep it. He does not want to deal with any changes, but Mr. Flux persuades him to try some. In turn, Martin shows Mr. Flux that in art some artists make things that actually look like something. Mr. Flux shows him other kinds of art. As they influence each other, people in town begin making some changes as well. When Mr. Flux leaves, Martin has a final surprise. Stephens has chosen a large format and stencil-like style to show this conflict of artistic cultures. Objects, people, and animals seem cut from papers that have drawings applied to them; a row of rectangles with windows and doors produces houses. Gouache effectively creates the shapes with humorous emotional content. Inventive symbols enhance the comic implications of the text, which carries the message of tolerance for differences. The artist includes his interpretation of Duchamp's "Fountain." A note adds information on George Maciunas and the "Fluxus" art movement relating to the story. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Mr. Flux is an agent of change whose mysterious arrival rocks the staid burbs in which very-well-behaved Martin lives. Curiously predictable, the story is devoid of the very plot twists that it seems Mr. Flux would approve of. This is your standard "change-can-be-good" story, but it also seems to push the agenda of the Fluxus movement of the 1960s a little harder than will appeal to most children. (An author's note explains that the story is loosely based on Fluxus artist George Maciunas.) Mr. Flux, for example, inspires the local librarian to throw salad into a wading pool, making change seem more for the sake of wackiness than for anything meaningful or even enjoyable. Stephens's cubist perspectives give Mr. Flux's monocle a curious place on the side of his face, making his oddball art the perfect fit for the story line. The appealing blues and greens, tall size, and thick paper stock will make the book stand out on the shelf, but the text will likely appeal only to adults trying to coax their children out of the safety of routines.—Jenna Boles, Washington-Centerville Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
In this homage to the 20th-century art movement known as Fluxus, a boy named Martin resists the invitation of his artistic, bowler-hatted neighbor to embrace an unknown in his young life: change. Taking his cues from the adults around him, he refuses Mr. Flux's gift of a box of "change," explaining that "change is upsetting, and we like things just the way they are." But with Mr. Flux's encouragement, Martin tries out a few new things and eventually comes to appreciate his neighbor's fluid way of seeing art in other than the usual ways. Marcel Duchamps' Fountain appears (on a pedestal!) on one page as an example of art that might not be recognized by people "busy making sure everything stayed the same." Stephens' angular, quirky and slightly abstract illustrations convey both the sense of play and the curious lenses for experience that the Fluxus movement celebrated. Maclear does not entirely avoid the pitfall of exhortation rather than inspiration, telling readers that changes take place in Martin's life and neighborhood and stating that the "most surprising change was in people's thinking" without further explanation. Nevertheless, this is a friendly introduction to a lighthearted aesthetic and an antidote to the belief that standards (in art or anything else) are fixed or immutable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Kids Can Press, Limited
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.50(d)
AD840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Kyo Maclear is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her first book for children, Spork, has received a number of honors, including a 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award nomination. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Matte Stephens is an illustrator and fine artist, and a firm believer in the idea that art can be found all around us. Mr. Flux is his first full-length picture book. Matte and his lovely wife, Vivienne, make all kinds of art in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in the company of their five cats and one dog, where change is always welcome.

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Mr. Flux 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
book4children More than 1 year ago
I love the pictures in this book. They give a unique feel to the book that I really like. The story is an interesting concept. It's a whimsical tale of a boy (and a neighborhood) that learns to embrace change. The message that change can be a good thing is delivered in a fun and entertaining way that children will enjoy.
LearnA More than 1 year ago
Artwork is amazing and the story is genuine.  Enjoyable read.