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- author Jackie French

Monday, 25 June 2018

Review: The Flying Optometrist

The little red plane flies over suburbs, mountains, mines and fields. It is piloted by Phillip Anderton, The Flying Optometrist

His route will encompass the big farm where Stephanie lives. She has cracked glasses that need replacing and she eagerly awaits one of his two yearly visits, to be able to play cricket again.  

She’s not the only one watching the sky for the red plane. There’s Reg the stockman, Bill the plumber, and Aunty Pat with problems that only he can fix.

But the wind has picked up and there is no sign of red in the sky. Unknown to all those waiting, The Flying Optometrist is concentrating on manoeuvring the little red plane through the howling wind.

With the new day, the sun is shining. A patch of red appears. The Flying Optometrist relays how he had to wait out the wind somewhere safe. He sets up his chart in the usual place and starts examining eyes. Next day he’s off again to the city to fill the prescriptions for the glasses, while in the outback, everyone waits for the mail to deliver them.

This terrific story of rural medical care given by The Flying Optometrist is inspired by the life of the author’s father, Philip Anderton. The brilliant characters and outstanding illustrations created by Karen Erasmus bring the story to life and give a clear picture of how outback communities depend on the flying services for their health needs. The choice of red slipped randomly onto every page with careful consideration, serves to accent the red plane and remind readers what the book is about.  The end pages, also filled with flying reds planes, reinforce the red plane’s commitment to the countless remote outback families.

The end includes in a double spread on the history of The Royal Flying Doctor Service, founded by the Reverend John Flynn in 1928. This is followed by three pages of Phillip Anderton’s life and work with his Little Red Rocket, which is supported by the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

This is a must-have for libraries and schools, but mainly for children’s bookcases. Of all things taught and learnt, the invaluable and important work done by all kinds of flying doctors daily must be acknowledged.

On a personal note, I salute all the people of every branch of the Flying Doctor Services, and give heartfelt thanks for being there to transport a life more than precious than mine to me.

Title: The Flying Optometrist
Author: Joanne Anderton
Illustrator: Karen Erasmus
Publisher: NLA Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2018 
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780642279132
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book


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