Sally Murphy (text) Janine Dawson (illus). Fly-in Fly-out Dad, The Five Mile Press, May 2015. 32pp., $16.95 (hbk) ISBN: 9781743467299.
Fly-in Fly-out (FiFo) workers are a common phenomenon in Western Australia and other States where mining and oil companies operate. While in real terms it has been increasingly obvious that this system can put heavy social and personal stresses on family life, this delightful picture book captures the resilience of children, and put a happier face on the situation. At home, Dad is able to fully engage with his family, helping with mundane chores like hanging out the washing but also having “adventures” together, and importantly, there is time for the mutual sharing of stories since they were last together. While everyone is sad when Dad has to go back to work, there is also anticipation of gathering up stories to tell when he next comes home. The author captures very personal moments through sense of small – when Dad arrives home he smells of “dust and diesel and machines” but when he leaves, the scent is of “home and bacon and eggs and aftershave”.
Janine Dawson’s lively and entertaining illustrations morph Dad’s orange and blue mining clothing into a Superhero costume, with the narrator imagining Dad flying the vast distances to and from the mine under his own super powers. This topic should be helpful for children who live in a FiFo family, and could also be used in class situations the ‘family differences’ are being discussed.
Reviewed by Chloe Mauger