Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes. WordSong / Highlights, 2016
Garvey is often teased at school for his weight, while his father’s disapproval weighs heavily on him at home. “‘Why can’t Garvey be / like his sister?’ I heard Dad / ask when I was eight. Mom said, / ‘That’s the wrong question. / Ask Garvey what interests him.’” Unlike his sister, Garvey could not care less about sports. But he loves to read, especially science fiction. He also loves music, and often hums, or sings alone at home, but has never considered trying out for middle school Chorus. It’s his best—and only—friend Joe who encourages him to do so. In Chorus, Garvey finds acceptance, and a second friend, Manny. Garvey shines when he sings, and it’s no surprise that his mom and sister are proud of him. But Garvey discovers singing is a source of surprising pride for a dad who, he learns, once sang in a band. A quietly triumphant novel told through Japanese Tanka poems (explained in an author’s note) follows an African American boy gaining confidence and finding connection doing something he loves. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- Do you think the poetry makes this story easier or more difficult to read? What do you think are the benefits of writing and reading a story-in-verse? How do you think the book would be different if it were not told in verse?
- How do Garvey and Joe (and Manny) keep their friendship strong?
- How do Garvey’s friends and family shape him, and how does Garvey shape them?