Pearl and Wagner: Four Eyes, by Kate McMullan, with wonderful watercolor pictures by R. W. Alley, tells the story of a young mouse who gets glasses, but it’s also about how friends can stand up for each other, and help each other feel better about themselves. The Pearl and Wagner series are books targeted at 5-8 year olds about two friends, a mouse named Wagner and a rabbit named Pearl. The books are early chapter books. Pearl and Wagner: Four Eyes is a level 2 early reader. It has three very short chapters, and can easily be read out loud by a parent in one sitting.
The story starts on eye test day at school, where Wagner has difficulty reading the eye chart. He realizes he’ll need glasses, though he doesn’t want them. His friend Pearl tries to cheer him up by talking about how great glasses are and how different styles can give someone a whole new look. While Wagner isn’t convinced, he still ends up with glasses shortly thereafter.
At school, his friends all support him and tell him he looks great in his glasses. My favorite is Henry, who remarks, “You look like Wagner with glasses.” But he does get teased by two bigger boys, one of whom calls out “Hi, Four Eyes!” This is where is friends really step up to help Wagner by making a joke of it:
“I have on a hat,” said Henry.
“I guess that makes me Two Heads.”
“I’m wearing boots,” said Bud.
“That makes me Four Feet.”
And with that, Wagner puts his glasses back on. The book ends with the whole class having a party to celebrate seeing. At the back of the book, there’s tips for wearing glasses, such as, “If you sleep with your glasses on, they can get lost in your covers,” and there’s a helpful guide to the different parts of glasses.
I normally don’t like books about glasses that have scenes of the child being teased or taunted, since that hasn’t been Zoe’s experience, and so I don’t feel the need to point out to her that some kids are teased for their glasses. But I this to be a really sweet book about friendship as much as it is about glasses, and Zoe loves it. She particularly loves the part where Wagner’s friends make jokes about being Two Heads or Four Feet.
I’d recommend this book for older children, age 4 or 5 and up, especially those who may be worried about being teased.