Ages 4 to grown-up
Fair warning – this one is kind of gross. It’s the story of a fly who learns that swimming can be very dangerous – well, if you go swimming in a toilet bowl.
The fly is merrily swimming away when suddenly everything goes dark, then it starts to ‘rain’ and then a huge (brown) ‘meteorite’ comes crashing into the pool. It really is gross.
I’ve given away the punch line – but when you read this out loud try not to give anything away until the dreadful realisation comes when the fly hears “a voice saying: ‘Mum, Mum! I’ve finished.’” It’s a brilliant moment – usually followed by all manner of groanings.
So – why read such a gross book?
Gross is shocking - it sets us on our heels and makes us re-think how we see the world. It also steels us against the notion that we live in a purified world and are somehow removed from the natural world.
The Fly is all about the unexpected – it’s weird enough that a fly goes swimming (complete with beach towel and sunscreen) but then to find out his swimming hole was a toilet bowl all along gives a good jolt of surprise.
There’s also the fly’s reaction – he vows never to go swimming ever again because it can be so dangerous. We know, of course, that it was his choice of swimming hole that was dangerous, not the swimming itself. A good reminder to think carefully before reaching sweeping conclusions.
What’s the point of such a disturbing story? It:
- lets us deal with the unexpected in a funny way,
- reminds us of the mundane and makes it funny,
- surprises us,
- makes us laugh; and
- allows us into a joint conspiracy as we find amusement in something gross!
The Fly is by Gusti
We couldn't find this book on any sellers' sites at the time of writing but you could well find it second-hand - otherwise it's great to borrow from the library