Illustrated by Dave Valeza
Ages 8 to 12
May 2nd, 2023
Rex thought sixth grade was going to be exciting, with new teachers, a fancy locker, and his best friend by his side. He was going to conquer the year with flying colors. Then his best friend starts hanging out with the popular crowd who don’t like the comics and who start bullying Rex for being short. Rex’s year can’t get any worse—until he finds out he needs glasses. Now, Rex has to deal with wearing glasses and being bullied for it, while navigating sixth grade, having no friends, and a family who don’t understand him.
The pencil-drawn illustrations express detailed features like the emotional facial expressions of each character and objects in the background. The warmer-hued colors distinguish the characters and the scene and give energy to the novel, matching the fast-pace of the story. The author and illustrator express an encouraging tone when themes of growing up and trying to figure out a place in school are brought up in Rex’s life. As Rex matures into his own person, he learns that everyone needs help sometimes, even adults. A major emotional moment in the story explores the difficulty of living in a low-income household, and although his family can’t afford the fancy pair of glasses for him or the nice clothes, Rex learns that having a loving family, a safe place to sleep, and the things you need are more important than what you might want. Middle school may be hard to figure out, but Rex finds his place by making new friends, and with their support, stands up to the bullies that his friend is hanging out with. Eventually, he also understands that becoming your own person means it’s okay to let go of old friends and accepts that glasses don’t change who you are. Four Eyes is a coming-of-age story for readers who are trying to navigate the intricate balance of middle school and what it means to grow up.