When you have a story to tell, you’re in the midst of a national pandemic, and you’re Jonathan Foret, you write a book. The original story is beautifully illustrated by Alexis Braud, a Cut Off-based professional artist, bringing Jonathan’s story to life in the pages of The Fly that Flew Off the Handle.
Jonathan, who is also the Executive Director of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, is proud to present his newly published children’s book, The Fly that Flew Off the Handle. “The story is about a little fly named Lester who feels angry a lot, but doesn’t quite know why or what to do about it,” explained the author. After a long journey of trying and failing to feel better, Lester meets a little butterfly Seymour who helps him figure out what’s wrong by asking him two simple questions: “What makes you angry?” and “what makes you happy?” Maybe the little fly Lester was just landing on the wrong surfaces this whole time!
“The book was inspired by my time serving in the Peace Corps from 2004-2006. There were lots and lots of flies where I lived and they made me very upset!” laughed Jonathan. “So the idea for the book was born. This has been in the works for years— I kept imagining an angry fly as a character who was trying to be happy.” Jonathan went on to discuss how his main character was inspired by the “journey of the hero” displayed in other famous works, such as Joseph Campbell’s work in comparative mythology and George Lucas’s “Star Wars” series. “If you read the book through that lens, you can see that this little fly in a children’s book is similar to a character like Luke Skywalker. He meets different characters, eventually finding one who helps him along his way. It’s a hero’s journey,” he said. “However, I want to mention that I couldn’t have brought this book to life without the beautiful illustrations of Alexis Braud.”
Alexis is a children’s book author, illustrator, and Nicholls State University graduate with a BA in Art and a focus in painting and sculpting. Alexis finds inspiration for her work in the characters, critters, and inherent mysteries of the bayous, swamps, and marshes she calls home…her paintings capture the characters of her home state in their animal guises filled with all the mysterious energy, beauty, and curiosity of the wild. “The most wonderful part of working on this book was collaborating with an author who respected my work,” explained Alexis. “Jonathan gave me the time and space to not only illustrate his words, but contribute to the story. This book was a mid-COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida undertaking, so we both faced many challenges and trials through those years. Somehow, Jonathan kept us afloat and the bugs played on! Any book is a collaborative product, and I could not be happier with what Jonathan and I have created.”
The pair unveiled the first 100 printed copies of The Fly that Flew Off the Handle at the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center’s Ladybug Ball on Saturday, April 22, 2023. The book will be available for purchase soon, so everyone can enjoy the little fly Lester’s inspiring journey and have a beautiful piece of southern Louisiana in their homes!