Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses
Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses
Anna and James choose their favourite storybooks for Grammie and Poppy to read to them.
Often Anna likes to look at the books all by herself. She even tries to read them to James.
But that day, Anna says, “Grammie, sometimes I can’t see all the words.”
According to a note supplied by the author, Marlene Bryenton, Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses “was distributed to over 3,000 kindergarten and grade two children on PEI”, her home province. Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses has a very simple linear plotline. Anna and her younger brother James are having a sleepover at their grandparent’s house. When Anna complains about having difficulty seeing the words in a storybook she is looking at, Grammie immediately makes an appointment with an optometrist, and the next day all four go to the optometrist’s office where Anna undergoes an eye examination and is then told by the optometrist that she will need to wear glasses. While they are still there, an optician assists Anna in selecting her eyeglass frames, the pink and purple ones of the book’s title, before the quartet returns to the grandparents’ home. Two days later, they reassemble at the optometrist’s to pick up the frames which have now had the corrective lenses installed.
A child’s first visit to a barber, a dentist or a doctor can sometimes be a traumatic event for both the child and the child’s adult caregivers. Numerous children’s books have been written to assuage children’s concerns about what they might encounter in a barber or dentist’s chair or in a doctor’s office, but I have yet to encounter one that takes an early years child into an optometrist’s office for an eye examination. Consequently, Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses definitely fills a void and should be considered as a purchase by libraries serving this age group. Still, it could have been a much better book. There are a number of places where Bryenton missed opportunities to add to her readers’ understanding of the book’s subject matter. For instance, Bryenton uses adult terminology, “have her eyes checked” and “The doctor will check your eyes”, without explaining what “checking eyes” means. While Bryenton does clarify that the doctor who carries out Anna’s eye examination is called an optometrist, she later uses the term “optician” but does spell out what this person’s function is. When Anna asks her grandmother if she and Poppy had eye exams when they were children, Grammie could have added to her affirmative answer that, as adults, they both still have regular exams. Anna’s actual eye exam, itself, is underdeveloped text-wise, being briefly sandwiched between Anna’s spotting the pink and purple frames almost immediately upon entering the building and then her choosing them after the exam. The illustrator, Leanne Bowlan, herself an optician, accurately reproduces the interior of a typical optometrist’s examining room, including a phoropter. (In the book, it’s just called the doctor’s “machine”. Wouldn’t that be a great word for kids to say? Sounds like a kind of dinosaur.) Bryenton, however, says nothing about the optometrist’s changing the lenses on his “machine” as Anna is looking through it during the examination.
Though Bowlan’s rendering of the examining room was good, she is less successful in her portrayal of humans, especially the two children whose ages, if judged from physical size, seem to change from page to page. Continuity also becomes a small problem when Anna’s hair part and decorative flower shift sides during an illustration sequence.
Of course, because Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses is a book aimed at children, they are unlikely to question the fact that the grandparents have completely usurped the parents’ role in their children’s eye care.
Though not a perfect book, Anna’s Pink and Purple Glasses could serve as a discussion starter between a child about to visit an optometrist for the very first time and her/his parents who might wish to provide her/him with an overview of what may occur.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he still wears glasses to read.