Review of Freestyle

by Gale Galligan; illus. by the author; color by K Czap
Middle School    Graphix/Scholastic    272 pp.    g
10/22    978-1-338-04581-9    $24.99
Paper ed.  978-1-338-04580-2    $12.99

The Eight Bitz dance crew has one more year together before they all go off to different high schools, and they’re determined to make the most of it. For protagonist Cory that means freestyling and having fun, but for team captain Tess it means pushing everyone into a tightly choreographed routine that she secretly hopes will get her into dance school. On top of tensions in the crew, Cory is having a tough time in class and is grounded until he brings his grades up. The tutor his parents hire is his prickly lab partner, Sunna—who’s secretly a yo-yo prodigy. Yo-yo turns out to be a surprisingly efficient way to interest someone in math and science, but Cory’s crew notices that he’s passing up time with his old friends as he gets closer to a new one. Galligan’s crisp, bouncy, cartoonlike style captures the story’s constant motion, making for a fast-paced visual experience with yo-yo strings or b-boying limbs constantly busting out of panels. The narrative speeds along just as quickly, with calendar pages whizzing past. While the focus is on Cory, Galligan finds space to land emotional beats for several members of the large and diverse cast. The changes and challenges of middle school should resonate with many kids, and readers will cheer when Cory finds a way to bring everyone together in a whizz-bang finish.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Laura Koenig

Laura Koenig is the Team Leader for Central Library Children's Services at the Boston Public Library.

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