FOUR EYES BY REX OGLE AND DAVE VALEZA
Four Eyes by Rex Ogle and Dave Valeza is a graphic novel dealing with the adjustments of starting middle school. The memoir focuses on when Rex begins a new year without his elementary friends due to re-drawn school catchment areas. He is faced with all the typical drama of locker combinations, height differences, trying to fit in and new academic expectations. As if that is not hard enough, Rex discovers that he needs glasses which his mother cannot afford.
This piece of Ogle’s story includes important themes around the topics of divorced families, poverty, bullying, friendships and school. Although very age-appropriate, he does not shy away from the realities of divorced parents fighting about money, the cruelness of peers and generational conflict. At the same time, this realistic coming-of-age story encompasses the sweetness of grandparents, an accepting portrayal of stuttering and the joy of new friendships.
Ogle’s portrayal of how friendships change was powerful. People change and those who were your friends throughout elementary may not be the same as you grow up. The message that you don’t need to change to find a group of friends that show belonging, laughter and support is one that every middle grader needs to hear. This book would be a great addition to a grade 5 and 6 classroom library.