Review of Four Eyes

Four Eyes Four Eyes
by Rex Ogle; illus. by Dave Valeza; color by Ash Szymanik
Intermediate, Middle School    Graphix/Scholastic    224 pp.
5/23    9781338574975    $24.99
Paper ed.  9781338574968    $12.99
e-book ed.  9781338574982    $12.99

Rex is looking forward to starting middle school, but his sixth-grade year starts off poorly when he realizes he needs glasses. He’s seen other kids being bullied for wearing glasses, and when he goes to school wearing them, Rex is, indeed, made fun of. Victor and his friends are unrelenting, calling him geek, nerd, weirdo, and, of course, four eyes. Victor is the cool guy, and his band of bullies gains popularity by association with him. Even Rex’s best friend, Drew, abandons him in favor of Victor, who goes even further and makes fun of Rex’s mother for being a waitress. However, after a long depiction of the ways and means of middle-school meanness, Ogle (Free Lunch) and Valeza give the story a positive turn. Rex’s abuela tells him the story of the truly hard times of her childhood in Mexico, a few kids from his class who share his “nerdy” interests in comic books and Star Wars become friends, and even Drew returns to the fold. The graphic-novel format is used effectively in this story loosely based on Ogle’s life. Sharply defined images become blurry to show readers how Rex sees things; when Abuela relates her childhood story, the colorful palette shifts to gray backgrounds to suggest the family’s struggles; and several panels portray the verbal abuse Victor is subjected to by his father, implying why Victor himself has taken to bullying. Rex’s glasses help him see more clearly, but listening to his parents, Abuela, and his friends helps him understand what’s truly important.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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