Freda Chiu, A Trip to the Hospital, Allen & Unwin, August 2021, 32pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760526702
When I was four-years-old, a book called My First Hospital Visit (or something like that), greatly put my mind at ease in the days leading up to my tonsillectomy. Today, a bigger and bolder title, penned and illustrated by Sydney-based Freda Chiu, sets out to allay little ones’ fears and worries about going to hospital, whether as a patient or visitor.
A Trip to the Hospital introduces children to the hospital “superheroes” across a range of medical fields – nurses, anaesthetists, cleaners, surgeons, radiologists, to name just a few – presenting a caring, human face of medicine: These are some of the people who will help you feel better. They might be wearing funny masks, gowns and hats, but underneath … they’re just like you!
There are many things to love about Chiu’s bright and dynamic debut picture book. The clear, simple language; the inclusiveness of the illustrations (workers, visitors, patients and families); the breadth of information, covering emergency visits, scheduled operations, recovery and rehabilitation; and the person-centred focus and capabilities of hospital staff. Chiu spent time researching the book with the team at Liverpool Hospital’s paediatric ward and emergency department, and it shows. Some of the team are even illustrated as characters. The inclusion of a ‘Did you know?’ page at the back of the book highlights related facts and achievements of Australian doctors and scientists.
This is a timely and important book, especially with the pandemic still looming but also for long afterwards.
Reviewed by Maura Pierlot