Fly-in fly-out Dad by Sally Murphy

cover image

Ill. by Janine Dawson.Five Mile Press, 2015. ISBN 9781743467299
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Flight, Working away from home, Mining, Families. A situation that affects many families in Australia, where work is to be found many kilometres from their homes, the fly-in fly-out dad is represented with clarity in this timely book. When Dad comes home, the narrator envisages his life away as a superhero, complete with superhero suit emblazoned with a capital D. He lives in a donga, drives a huge machine, has meals cafeteria style, eats with his co workers, some of whom play jokes on him, but above all works hard, sometimes having to work in the mine at night to get the job done. It is a life away from his family so the week spent at home is frenetic, as he joins in with all the things he misses in the weeks he is away. He helps hang the washing, reads the children stories, listens to their tales of what has happened to them while he has been away, but each few page we hear the narrator wishing Dad could stay. The wistfulness adds a level of sympathy to the story and children reading it will feel with him as he watches his father leave again at the end of the story.
The illustrations playfully underline the life the family leads with Dad away, but when he is home, the boy's imagination soars and the pictures are funny and poignant, reflecting the tone of the story. The family's cohesiveness is obvious to all readers, as the illustrations show them doing things together and the emotional pull of the images at the end of the book as Dad readies to fly out again, cannot be ignored.
This book admirably reflects the diversity of Australian families, one many children will not have come across, but reading this will now have a greater understanding of the lives lead by some of their peers.
Fran Knight