A hungry fly avoids a swatting but then finds himself in need of rescue when he ends up on a garden spider’s menu in this picture book by debut author Carr and illustrator Jakosalem (Nicky’s Story, 2016, etc.)
A foraging fly named Fred has quite an adventure in this simple picture book for young readers. Nearly flattened by a homemaker with a rolled up newspaper, Fred falls into a garbage pail (“potato peelings and bits of carrots, mushrooms and egg shells”), lands on a compost heap, finds a hungry spider on his trail, and escapes with help from his best snail and slug buddies. Fueled by a gentle spirit, the plot has undoubted kid appeal with its sympathetic, garbage-loving hero—and the author’s rather ingenious (if slimy) fix for Fred’s broken wing. The book’s uneven execution is another matter, however. The author undermines his eventful storytelling with awkward or repetitious wording and run-on and incomplete sentences: “Looking around Fred could see lots of nice food lying on the shelves he could also see a glass jug”; “Fred was beginning to feel drowsy it was a very comfortable place to rest he had all the food he wanted.” This perplexing lack of attention to sentence structure is especially disappointing because the author has clearly put thought into envisioning a fly’s-eye world of tempting rubbishy bits, warm compost, slug slime, hairy spider legs, and sunshine. Fred is a distinct character whose food has to be “nice and soft because he had no teeth,” whose mother worries about him, and who can rely on good friends. While colorful and sweet, Jakosalem’s somewhat mundane, cartoonlike illustrations, boxed in wide-margined squares over blocks of text, would benefit from a more fluid approach.
Needs judicious editing and a more interesting visual style to realize its full child-pleasing potential.