Friday, May 4, 2018

The Flying Optometrist

The Flying Optometrist, Joanne Anderton

This charming little book for preschoolers tells the story of the Flying Optometrist, who brings eye care to the people of outback Australia.

Poor Stephanie has broken her glasses and can no longer see properly. Other people nearby are struggling too, Reg can’t see far away anymore and other people need their regular check-ups to ensure their eyes are OK.

Unlike those of us who live in a city or town, Stephanie lives in a remote area and there is no optometrist. What are they to do? Thankfully, the Flying Optometrist is on the way in his little red plane. He only comes twice a year and if the weather is bad, he might get delayed, but when he arrives he spends all day checking people’s eyes and fitting glasses as needed.

He heads back to the city and gets the orders all ready, and Stephanie waits... until her new glasses arrive in the mail a few weeks later. Now she can see and play cricket with her friends again!

It’s accompanied with soft, clear, engaging illustrations by Karen Erasmus. The faces of the people waiting for the optometrist and Stephanie’s broken glasses are clearly portrayed for little ones to grasp, as is the vast remote feel of where Stephanie lives.

It’s a lovely little story made all the more vivid because it’s real. The author’s father is the Flying Optometrist, Phil Anderton, who has built his own little red plane and does travel to remote Australia bringing eye care and optometry services. In fact, the extra sections at the back explaining his work, the work of the Brien Holden Vision Institute, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service are great extra information for parents to help explain the story to the little ones they read it with. I have a family history with the RFDS and so having a book explain simply to young children both the need for rural healthcare and the way one problem has been creatively solved is fantastic.

While it’s clearly appropriate for every little reader, I’d particularly suggest it for any child that wears glasses (or with family members that do), whether urban or rural. If they live in a city, they’ll be amazed how hard it can be for other kids to get glasses since they walk past a Specsavers or equivalent every time they go grocery shopping. For those who are more rural, they’ll understand there are other kids like them, or some who may have to wait even longer for healthcare than they do!

I’m sure this book will make its way into many libraries, especially in schools and pre-schools, and so it should.  All of us need to be aware of the costs for those who live remotely, and appreciate those who try to bring them the variety of services we so easily take for granted.

I was given a copy of this book by Quikmark Media and asked to write an honest review.

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