OPPORTUNITY: Fran Underhill with blind teddy bear Edward and his seeing eye dog, Tuesday.
OPPORTUNITY: Fran Underhill with blind teddy bear Edward and his seeing eye dog, Tuesday. Aden Stokes

Fun-filled Australian adventure

GRANDMOTHER, author and Willows Gemfields resident Fran Underhill recently received cards from both Kensington Palace and the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark thanking her for the books she sent to their youngest royals.

Mrs Underhill said she had posted the famous families the first two volumes of her books - Edward and Tuesday's Outback Adventures - and she was thrilled to receive the royal replies.

She was also "honoured” to be told this week that both books - which tell the tales of Edward, a blind fluffy, golden teddy bear, and his seeing-eye dog, Tuesday - were to be published in braille by Braille House in Brisbane.

"The reaction I'm getting is totally beyond anything I would have expected. I'm just so honoured that they're doing this.”

She said she had written the first book initially for her grandchildren, Trinity, 8, and Harrison, 4, and the main character was Edward the bear, based on a toy bear she was given by her parents when she was born.

Mrs Underhill bought a toy guide dog from the merchandise section of Guide Dogs Queensland as a companion for Edward the bear, and together the duo have become the inspiration for her books.

"Rick and I were volunteer carers for Queensland Guide Dogs when we lived on Bribie Island. The training of the guide dogs is unbelievable.”

Mrs Underhill, who lives with her husband Rick in the Central Highlands, 100km west of Emerald, said she hoped the books would teach children values such as friendship and compassion as well as inspiring them to travel and explore Australia.

The books, illustrated by Emerald mother-of-five Ricki Starke, are based on Mr and Mrs Underhill's own travels around the country.

"Edward has always travelled everywhere with me, and now he has his own guide dog. It's a fun story.”

The books also cover themes such as bullying, and Mrs Underhill said she hoped they would help children learn to accept people who are different.

She said young children accepted her explanation that when Tuesday describes what the stars look like to Edward, "he sees them in his heart”.

"Just because you have a disability doesn't make you disabled.”

For a copy of the books, contact Mrs Underhill at edwardandtuesday@gmail. com. Cost is $20 and add $2 for postage.

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