Review of Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel

Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic NovelGarvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel
by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Theodore Taylor III
Intermediate, Middle School    Wordsong/Astra    144 pp.
6/23    9781662660023    $22.99
Paper ed.  9781662660085    $12.99
e-book ed.  9781662660092    $9.99

“Why can’t he put those books down, play football or basketball?” Garvey’s father wants to turn him into an athlete, like his sister Angie, but Garvey would rather get lost in a book, listen to music, or dream about galaxies. In addition to pressure at home, he faces endless taunting at school for his weight. When Garvey meets the “skim-milk boy” Manny, who has albinism, he asks how Manny stands the teasing. “I look strange. No changing that. / Is there more to me? / Sure. Kids yell ‘albino boy.’ / I don’t turn around. / Choose the name you answer to. / No one can do that but you.” Per Grimes’s author’s note, this graphic-novel adaptation leaves two-thirds of the original book’s (Garvey’s Choice, rev. 9/16) tanka poems intact, with only small changes to the rest of them. The verses are given a new visual life with excellent page designs and clever illustrations, including the closing spread showing Garvey singing into a mic and his father playing the guitar, with floating musical notes uniting them in song. An unusually effective use of the graphic-novel format to bring poetry alive.

From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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