It’s stinking hot. I’ve thrown the blanket off my bed. I’m lying spread out, trying to fall asleep. But the cool change hasn’t come and my skin is prickly with sweat.
I close my eyes and I can see myself jumping into our swimming pool. Thinking about water cools me down. I start to forget about the heat. My body relaxes. I’m about to fall into deep sleep.
Noor can’t sleep because it’s too hot. And if that wasn’t annoying enough, along come the flies. Buzzing all about, but impossible to catch. Then Noor realises he can hear them talking. Suddenly the game changes. Noor, already fly-fighter extraordinaire, is insulted when he discovers just what the flies think of him. Now it’s personal! He hatches a plan to get rid of all the flies. But sometimes the solution isn’t quite the solution it seems to be. Illustrations are colourful and cartoon-y and appear on every opening. Most pages also include a header and/or footer showing some of the fly’s favourite foods. Challenging words, or even just words to be emphasised are in different, larger fonts.
The ‘Aussie Mates’ series has produced some very funny new Aussie yarns. And certainly, nothing feels more Aussie than flies. No barbecue or picnic is complete without flies. This time, though, the notion of Australian-ness has been expanded to portray some of newer Australians. Mum wears a headscarf but she also wears a hat with corks strung from it. Noor wants to rid the world of flies, but it’s soon clear that every creature has a purpose in the world, even if it seems like flies are just there to stop him sleeping and to dive into his family’s food. In the way of these yarns, the magical elements (like being able to understand fly-talk) are woven in with little explanation. None is needed. It’s clear that these are tall tales, designed to be collected and enjoyed. The ‘Aussie Mates’ series is for newly independent readers, but there’s plenty of fun to be had for older readers.
Mates: Buzz Off Randa Abdel-Fattah, Dan McGuiness
Omnibus Books 2011