cover image Freestyle


Gale Galligan. Graphix, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-338-04580-2

In an uplifting tale from Galligan (the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel series), the Eight Bitz dance crew seeks to make the most of their eighth grade year before splitting up for different N.Y.C. high schools. Tan-skinned Cory and his crew, portrayed with varying skin tones and body types, plan to win an epic annual dance competition, Bronx Kids Battle. Brown-skinned captain Tess Reyes, who sports a backward cap and braid, requires a strict practice regimen, and her austere routines, which leave no room for improv, put her at odds with the freewheeling crew. When Cory’s grades slip and his parents hire hijabi classmate Sunna Ahmad to tutor him, extra study sessions cut into his practice time. But after Sunna shows him her superb yo-yo throwing skills, the pair become fast friends, and Cory is caught between established relationships and newfound joys that could split up the Eight Bitz for good. Galligan’s timing—both comedic and emotional—is impeccable, and dynamic paneling paired with vibrant technicolor hues artfully complement the flow and energy of the Eight Bitz’s routines and Sunna’s yo-yo prowess. Supporting characters’ individual troubles are empathetically captured alongside Cory and Sunna’s emotional hurdles, and the cast is given space to experience and navigate big feelings via open and vulnerable communication, making for a thoughtfully rendered portrayal of friendship, growth, and joyful self-expression. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Oct.)