“Over breakfast, Dad / eyes me like an alien / never seen before. / Sometimes, I could swear that he’s / hoping to make first contact.” In verse form, Garvey’s Choice tells the story of one boy’s journey to discover his own voice.
Being overweight is one thing, but Garvey’s dad wants a son who excels in sports, not a “Star Trek”-watching dreamer. When Garvey tries out for chorus, he finds his true talent, but what will his family think?
Author Nikki Grimes (Words with Wings) wrote this story in tanka, Japanese short verse that is like pumped-up haiku—five lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count. While this makes for short chapters of one to three verses, they’re also tightly compacted and hard-hitting. Garvey’s joy when he’s with his friends, or beginning to train his singing voice, sparkles as brightly as his hurt feelings burn when he’s being teased. Readers don’t have to be fans of Luther Vandross to choke up when father and son connect through his music.
It can be hard for parents to learn that letting kids be themselves is beneficial to the whole family. This story empowers kids to do just that while slipping them a dose of poetry in the bargain. It’s a winner.