Brenna Maloney: Philomena’s New Glasses

Photographs by Chuck Kennedy

Published by Viking, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2017

A dear friend introduced me to Philomena and her sisters recently, what a cute little trio of guinea pigs! I have shared this story with young readers and much older ones and everyone, without exception, has finished the book with a smile.

My favourite is Nora Jane. She is not the oldest, that’s Philomena. She is not the largest, that’s Audrey. Nora Jane is completely herself, prepared to follow her sisters’ adventures in acquiring glasses, bags and dresses whether she needs all this stuff or not. But enough is enough. Does she really need a bag when her arms are too short to carry one, or glasses when she can see perfectly well without them?

Nora Jane is even prepared to squeeze herself into a dress just like her trendy sisters, but she soon discovers that the dress makes her armpits itch!

There is nothing like a sisterly conversation, sharing the truth, and talking about the things that are really bothering you, to get the problem sorted.

And just when you think the problems are sorted, your sister can still surprise you!

The final page is very cleverly staged and convinces me that Nora Jane is one sassy, unique and endearing character.

Chuck Kennedy has done a remarkable job getting these real-life guinea pigs to pose for photo shoots. It was also comforting to read that:

“No stunt doubles were used in the making of this book. Each guinea pig performed her own stunts, including hefty purse lifting, snug dress wearing, and even extensive kale eating.”

I can highly recommend this book for children 2-8 years and up to 88 years, my mother was giggling all the way through her first read. Below are more suggestions for further reading about the joys and tribulations of having a sister:

My Sister by
Joanna Young
The Seven Chinese Sisters
by Kathy Tucker
Illustrated by
Grace Lin
The Proudest Blue by
Ibtihaj Muhammad
with S.K.Ali
Illustrated by
Hatem Aly
Flo & Wendell by
William Wegman
I’ll Always Be Older Than You
by Jane Godwin
Illustrated by
Sara Acton
Whatever Happened to
My Sister by
Simona Ciraolo