Peetom, Laura and Frank, Kevin. Alex vs. The Four-Headed Gargantuan
August 1st 2016 by Lorimer
E ARC provided by the publisher
Alex gets a job delivering papers to a small number of homes in his own neighborhood. He enjoys being able to go around by himself, takes pride in doing good work, and likes having spending money of his own, even if his parents don't let him have an ATM card and withdraw money at will. He meets some of his neighbors, has to learn which dogs are dangerous, and worries about teenage boys he sees hanging around. He also learns that spending his own hard earned money is different, and starts to save his earnings for a bigger purchase instead of buying small items on impulse. After running from the teenagers in a blind panic, he realizes that they are not the threat that he thought they were, and even befriends one.
Books about middle grade children who have an interest or occupation are always interesting, and this has the added benefit of accompanying "Super Paper Boy" comics in between chapters, where Alex imagines that he has super powers. Readers can easily see themselves in Alex's position, and understand the difficulties he comes across.
My favorite thing about this book is that Alex is not bullied-- he is just worried that the teenagers are going to bully him. This is brilliant, since children's perceptions of the world are often more horrible than the realities they face.
While the drawing of the "gargantuan" is a bit odd, I liked the other illustrations. The text is simple enough for struggling or emergent readers, and the story a solid one filled with supportive parents and neighbors, new experiences, and a bit of fun along the way.