Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel

Wordsong. Jun. 2023. 144p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781662660023. pap.$12.99. ISBN 9781662660085.
Gr 4-9–Garvey wants to connect with his father, but feels as though his dad can’t accept him for who he is; Dad wants Garvey to be an athlete like his sister, Angela. But Garvey, who is Black, loves astronomy and chess; he escapes into science fiction to make himself feel better. Garvey’s dad and sister criticize his eating habits, adding to insecurities he feels as a result of bullying at school related to his weight. His best friend Joe, who is also Black, is caring and supportive; a new friend, Manny, who has albinism, helps Garvey learn to ignore bullying and “crank up the inside volume.” Joe encourages Garvey to try out for chorus; singing boosts his confidence and gives him a way to connect with his dad, who used to be in a band. Some of Grimes’s original tanka poems have been adjusted, but the novel in verse adapts beautifully to the graphic novel format, and Taylor’s art emphasizes the imaginative, poignant, painful, and joyful aspects in turn. Starry night sky illustrations, with characters outlined in white, are striking. Taylor often shows Garvey regarding himself in a mirror, and readers can see how Garvey’s feelings about his appearance change throughout.
VERDICT This format will attract new readers to a poetic, powerful story of growth. Highly recommended.

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