[Book Review] The Eye of the Fry Cook: A Story About Getting Glasses by Erica David


When I think of characters who could logically release tie-in books with an Unwanted Glasses Plot, Spongebob definitely does not come to mind. Why in the world would you need to foist glasses on a character who has never needed them in the past and will never need them again... and then completely fail to address the most common fears associated with getting glasses?

Alright, let me back up. In The Eye of the Fry Cook: A Story About Getting Glasses, Spongebob wants to join a fry cooking academy, which is fairly absurd considering that he's already a fry cook with an apparently full-time gig. As he practices fry cookery using flashcards with Patrick, he starts noticing that he's vision isn't what he thinks it is; in particular, he mistakes a large drawing of a cherry--which was being held right in front of his face--for an apple. As someone who's had glasses her entire life, I'm going to go ahead and call shenanigans; there's no way Spongebob wouldn't have noticed such a severe issue before, and there's no way in hell that the eye doctor who diagnoses his issue would realistically tell him that he "shouldn't wear them all the time". He can't see a large picture a foot in front of his face without them! Even I could probably see that, and my vision is horrendous. (And the rest of the book makes it clear that, yes, he needs to wear them constantly if they're going to be of any help.)

Then, of course, we get to the inevitable part when Spongebob decides that he doesn't want to wear his glasses. It's not because someone calls him a nerd or a dork or a geek or any other glasses-typical insult. He doesn't think they diminish his appearance. It's not even because they're difficult to get used to, though that's part of it. No, it's because Spongebob has a nightmare that involves his glasses hindering his cooking, culminating in "one of the chefs point[ing] to a giant sign that read NO GLASSES ALLOWED".

So Spongebob's actual fear is not that his glasses will ruin his ability to cook. He's afraid of... glasses discrimination, I guess? That he'll fail out of or won't be accepted into the fry cooking academy because of his glasses? That's, uh... that's something I haven't seen before.

It all works out for Spongebob in the end, of course; it's a pro-glasses story, obviously, not a pro-discriminate-against-the-vision-impaired one... but it is such a weird angle to come from, I'm really thrown by it. Are there actual children afraid of being illegally discriminated against? Because I certainly wasn't when I got glasses; my only glasses-related trauma was just my dad refusing to believe that I needed them in the first place. I can't recall anyone ever treating me any different for having glasses; as a matter of fact, life was so dramatically improved by the simple fact that I could finally see it that I don't think the worry ever crossed my mind. Maybe I'm a weirdo. Whatever.

In any case, if you're kid's a Spongebob superfan and might be getting glasses soon or is currently struggling with glasses anxiety, go ahead and give The Eye of the Fry Cook a try; it's might assuage their fears. On the other hand... Arthur's Unwanted Glasses Plot is better. If you're not in love with Spongebob, I'd recommend Arthur's Eyes instead.

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