Superhero statues bring smiles to sick

Superhero: Empire Coffee Co's Iron Man statue was sourced from Popcultcha.

Superhero: Empire Coffee Co's Iron Man statue was sourced from Popcultcha.

KIDS battling illness in the John Hunter Children’s Hospital have got to be some of the bravest and most inspiring residents in the region.

Books and bread: The Maryville book nook is one of the Hunter's street libraries.

Books and bread: The Maryville book nook is one of the Hunter's street libraries.

It only makes sense they’re surrounded by their peers, Iron Man and Captain America, and reminded of their own strength as they tackle treatment and time away from their families, homes and schools.

That’s why the owner of Empire Coffee Co, Glen Fredericks, is hoping to lend the life-sized superhero statues each worth “several thousands of dollars” to the junior patients for the next six months.

Read up: Manager of libraries Suzie Gately and lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

Read up: Manager of libraries Suzie Gately and lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

Mr Fredericks – a Star Wars enthusiast who regularly dresses up as a stormtrooper – was considering putting the two statues into storage while a Star Wars themed arcade machine was installed in his cafe.

He suggested on Facebook the statues could instead live in a principal’s office, but was inundated with comments pointing to the hospital instead. “Whenever we visit the hospital it’s quite an emotional experience – I’m always grateful I’m wearing a storm trooper’s helmet!” he said. “We had a nurse tell us that seeing everyone dressed up was the first time a child who had been in for a year had livened up, been animated and was asking questions,” he said.

Mr Fredericks said he had been made contact with the hospital and spoken to staff about how to clean the statues. If his offer is approved, he hopes to be able to deliver them, along with an escort from a “live” Iron Man and Captain America, over the next fortnight.

“I’m really hoping there will be lots of selfies from patients, their parents, nurses and doctors. It will be great to see their smiling faces. It’s about paying it forward.”

WATCH OUT, LIBRARIES ABOUT

IT’s the eternal dilemma for anyone who has picked up a great book or magazine in a cafe or doctor’s waiting room. Just when you’re getting to the juicy bit, your name is called, your order is ready and you never get to find out whether Dorothy did make it to the Emerald City.

Baked Uprising’s Alice Lees had a solution: install a street library, which would allow customers to bring the book that has captured the attention home with them.

“I’d read about street libraries before and thought it was a great way of sharing some of my excess books,” Ms Lees said.

“Lots of us have shelves full of books that we hang on to forever but only ever read once – this is a nice way to pass those books on. It’s not something I’m trying to attach solely to the bakery, it’s also for the Maryville community and people who are walking around the area.”

Ms Lees said there was high turnover of cookbooks and children’s titles. “Every few days I have a look and think ‘Wow, they’ve turned over again, they’re all new!’,” she said. “Some hang around for a bit. We had a big wave of war history books that stuck around for a while. I think a young boy picked one of them – they had great pictures.”

The Street Libraries website shows there are other “tiny vestibules of literary happiness” in Nelson Bay, Boat Harbour, Branxton, Jerrys Plains, Metford, Lorn, Warabrook, Charlestown and Tighes Hill.

SPEAKING OF BOOKS

IF you haven’t visited the refurbished Newcastle City Library on Laman Street, what are you waiting for? It has more space, comfortable nooks and a seriously impressive CD and DVD collection. While there’s something special about flicking through the pages of a pre-loved book and imagining all the readers it has touched, but Topics reckons its hit what could be described as some borrowers’ nirvana. When visiting on November 3 we picked up a particularly crisp copy of a travel guide for our dream destination. The edition? October 2017.