Garvey’s Choice

Nikki Grimes. Wordsong, $16.95 (108p) ISBN 978-1-62979-740-3
Writing in five-line tanka poems, Grimes (Words with Wings) weaves a heart-wrenching story about a boy who isn’t the jock his father dreamed he would be. Garvey loves books and, despite his father’s efforts, cannot get excited about sports. He eats to mask the pain of his father’s disappointment and is teased at school for his size. Help arrives in the form of friends Joe and Manny, an albino boy who embraces his difference, but when Garvey risks joining the school chorus and lets his voice soar, he learns to become proud of what he can do, instead of focusing on what he can’t. In simple, searing language, Grimes captures Garvey’s heartache at his father’s inability to accept him as he is, as well as the casual but wounding teasing Garvey endures at school (“The change bell always/ sinks fear into me like teeth./ Ugly name-calling leaves me with bloody bite marks:/ lard butt, fatso, Mister Tubbs”). Garvey’s journey to self-acceptance is deeply moving and will linger with readers long after they finish this brief, incisive verse novel. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2016
Release date: 10/04/2016
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