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Garvey #1

Garvey's Choice

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Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports.

120 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2016

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Nikki Grimes

98 books500 followers

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5 stars
1,487 (34%)
4 stars
1,801 (41%)
3 stars
819 (18%)
2 stars
154 (3%)
1 star
74 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 895 reviews
Profile Image for Starjustin.
91 reviews254 followers
August 5, 2017
Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes is a beautifully written children's novel, written in verse. A well taught life lesson for the middle-grade child that could very well carry into adulthood improving their self confidence and teaching them to be all that they can be, despite negative experiences that challenge them along the way. A quick and heart-felt read with so much to offer the reader. :-)
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
August 4, 2017
This book says so much. It's written in tanka poetry form, but tells a story of a boy who's overweight and has a father who wants him to be a jock. It's a wonderful read for kids and sends an important message. My daughter enjoyed it too.

Profile Image for David.
537 reviews123 followers
December 30, 2022
Want to feel better today? Read this book. While technically it is poetry, the rhythm is hidden in a beautiful story about Garvey. G's Dad wants to talk football; his older sister too easily teases him for his weight; his Mom always is supportive; classmates tease in the halls between classes; but G has found friendship with Joe and then Manny. Joe is just that cool friend that 'gets' you, and likes reading and chess like Garvey. Manny is the albino boy met in chorus, who has LONG ago figured out how to be different.

Phone Call
All evening long, I
try tucking in my sadness,
but it keeps getting
snagged on my voice when I speak.
Joe catches it when he calls.

"Hey? What's up?" Joe asks.
Should I tell him? "Nothing you
haven't heard before.
I wish my dad could see me.
That sounds crazy, huh?"

"Not really," says Joe.
"I get it. Seriously.
But you've got a dad.
Mine skipped out long time ago."
Why'd I open my big mouth?

Joe shrugs off his hurt.
"Knock, knock?" he says. "Not now, Joe."
"Come on, man! Knock, knock."
I give in. "Who's there?" "Your friend,
Joe, who's always here for you."

Now, did you see/hear the Tanka (Japanese origin) rhythm?
Line 1: 5 syllables
Line 2: 7 syllables
Line 3: 5 syllables
Line 4: 7 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables

This is a fantastic story about the power of friendship and being yourself!

Best thing about friends:
they know you inside and out.
Worst thing about friends:
They know you inside and out.
My turtle shell is useless.

Such a strong 5* book, aimed at kids, but I'd like to give a copy to everyone I meet.

This book must be read
By students of every age
All adults also
Hear the power of friendship
Become a friend like these three
Profile Image for Laura.
1,351 reviews199 followers
October 6, 2016

Stars wink, words slap, and laughter spatters in the pages and poems of Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes. This beautiful story is told in verse with emotion and force. A story about a boy finding his way at home, school, and life.

“I’m just beginning
to learn what I am made of,
to pay attention
to the kid in my own eyes,
starting to like what I see.

I feel unwritten
like that song says, in chorus,
my story untold.
I can’t wait to sing the song,
croon my own untold story.”

This little book caught me off guard! I don’t even know how it happened. The poems start out simple and funny, but the emotions build and build. And all of a sudden I’ve got tears in my eyes over a father and son discovering a way to connect and talk.

Garvey’s Choice is a treasure for readers filled with strong messages about identity, self-respect, family, and friends. Plus it has music in the words! I love when music plays a part in someone finding their voice and way in the world.

Read it!

Profile Image for Leigh Anne.
312 reviews39 followers
December 20, 2016
Anyone who has struggled to live up to a parent's expectations will see a part of themselves in this book. Garvey is trying to accept himself as a young boy who enjoys reading, space, and singing, while trying to ignore his dad's desire for him to play football and the other kids' taunts about his weight. But in the end...

"I do like Manny
crank up the inside volume
listen to my dreams
as I walk through the school halls
I choose what words to let in."

That is strength. And that is Garvey's choice.
Profile Image for Brody.
16 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2017
I think I liked this book because me and Garvey are similar in the fact that we may not be the thinnest, but when the world makes fun of you for it, we both went to music and friends for our safe haven.
Profile Image for Ava Pratt.
31 reviews
December 7, 2017
Garvey is a boy who love reading and Star Trek. His dad on the other hand, wants him to be athletic, love football and sports. Garvey's mom follows his path with him. This book really explained the pressures on Garvey, his dad, football, and school.
I gave this book 3 stars because it was slow throughout the beginning of the book to the end. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy realistic fiction.
Profile Image for mytaakeonit.
217 reviews39 followers
June 2, 2017
This sweet lyrical book is a quick read, but is packed full of emotion and life lessons. Nikki Grimes masterfully tackles identity, family relationships, body image and healthy weight loss, friendship, and self love all in a book that you can easily read in less than an hour. I will definitely be purchasing this for the classroom library. Loved it.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,144 reviews448 followers
March 18, 2018
"Round still, but that's fine.
Feeling good outside and in.
Maybe I'm not thin,
but skinny isn't perfect.
The perfect size is happy."

Wisdom from Garvey that even adults can learn from. Loved this story told in tanka poems from the perspective of a young man who struggles with his weight and connecting with this father. Short, but sweet and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Scott Fillner.
266 reviews34 followers
September 16, 2016
Amazing book written in Tanka form poetry. I foresee this as a powerful read for any adolescent. This book gives voice to what many young men fear, not living up to the expectations/vision of their father.

The novel in verse also does an excellent job of looking at issues like obesity, not conforming to societal pressures, and bullying (Peers & relational)

I just love how this book gives voice to issues from a male adolescent perspective.

For me this book was an amazing "window" and hopefully a doorway as I am raising a son. It is a great reminder for me to always listen to what he is interested in, and don't fall into the feeling or pressure for him to conform to what societal pressures we may feel.

I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for elise (the petite punk).
376 reviews112 followers
January 6, 2023
Shh more like 2.5 stars.

I was excited for this, as it’s incredibly difficult to find novels centering around male body image. I can probably think of two or so off the top of my head. Even though a few lines here and there were more emotional, some of the poems were a bit ridiculous with how much substance they lacked (a whole poem that was just a basic knock-knock joke? eh). However, it still tackled some issues that I very rarely see in children’s literature, so I’ll give it that. Although this is technically a middle grade novel, I would say it’s more suitable for a slightly younger audience.

Also, side note: whoever chose to change the cover to that nice blue sky with a house instead of that nightmare fuel illustration was so right

✧ ✧ ✧

≪reading 31 books for 31 days of january≫
╰┈➤ 1. funny feelings by tarah dewitt
╰┈➤ 2. winterborne home for vengeance and valor by ally carter
╰┈➤ 3. garvey’s choice by nikki grimes
Profile Image for Krista the Krazy Kataloguer.
3,873 reviews263 followers
November 11, 2017
This nifty little novel in verse tells the story of Garvey, an overweight astronomy nerd who can't seem to live up to his father's expectations. I thought it was a nice story until I got to the end, where the author notes that she wrote all the poems in this story in the form of tanka, a Japanese poem with 5 lines and certain syllabic requirements per line. Then I had to go back to the text and marvel that she could tell such a story entirely using poems in that form. Wow! I have a hard time writing one tanka, let alone all of these. I enjoyed the story (though I think aspects of it would have been better told in prose--I'd have liked to have heard a little more about his dad's relationship with his own father) and I'm awed by the poetry. Moral of the story here: be yourself, no matter who pressures you to be otherwise. Recommended!!
Profile Image for Cathy.
482 reviews1 follower
December 11, 2018
I loved Nikki Grimes' book Bronx Masquerade, but I have to say that this book was a little disappointing. I wasn't sure what the main point was. The synopsis brought up eating as comfort, a father/son relationship that was not good, and a boy who didn't fit in. I didn't see any of these particularly as being well-developed. This made the ending flat as well. I liked some of the poems, but there just weren't enough of them that really made the story come to life. Maybe ok for upper elementary students. Disappointing to me.
Profile Image for Beth Honeycutt.
773 reviews11 followers
January 6, 2017
A sweet, beautiful story in verse. I love Nikki Grimes' books - such a talented poet. The book has several important messages about life.
Profile Image for Jeimy.
4,400 reviews33 followers
September 3, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a boy coming to terms with who he is. I love the explanation about the poetic form used.
11 reviews13 followers
June 7, 2018
I really liked the character development in this book. Garvey goes from a shy kid to a kid who isn't scarred to sing. I do, however, wish the book was a little longer.
Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,072 reviews122 followers
December 9, 2016
Richie’s Picks: GARVEY’S CHOICE by Nikki Grimes, Wordsong, October 2016, 120p., ISBN: 978-1-62979740-3

“...My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me
And then
Spin me around ‘till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure
I was loved”
--Luther Vandross, “Dance With My Father”

“The Luther is ‘a house-made brioche donut, glazed in maple-chicken a jus and topped with warm pieces of oven-baked pecans. While that sounds like a meal already, the brioche is cut in half and stuffed with a piece of buttermilk fried chicken and wedges of applewood smoked bacon.’
“...Legend has it that Luther Vandross, the wonderfully soulful R&B singer, created the original sandwich. That might explain some of his health problems that included diabetes and high blood pressure, both linked to bad diet and being overweight. Vandross died in 2005, at the young age of 54, of a heart attack.
“Do you really want to eat a sandwich named after the man it killed?”
-- Davalos McCormick, “The Sandwich that Killed Luther Vandross” (2011)


Luther died before
I knew his music, his name.
It’s the why of it
makes me want to punch a wall.
He shouldn’t have died at all.

News stories agree.
What did him in was his weight,
all that yo-yoing,
up and down, losing, gaining.
His heart just couldn’t take it.

I did the right thing,
giving up crash dieting.
Maybe it’s better
to eat less, jog with Joe, go
slow so I can stick around.

An engaging verse novel for middle grade readers employing the tanka poetic format, GARVEY’S CHOICE features an overweight boy who seeks to discover his own voice as he struggles with body issues and his father’s disapproval.

Garvey is named for black nationalist Marcus Garvey. He’s into reading, astronomy, and chess, activities that don’t involve a lot of running and coordination. He fears that his sports-loving father sees him as an alien. He’s picked on at school for being overweight. His best friend is Joe.


Joe caught me dancing
in first grade, during recess,
out back by the slide,
alone--or so I thought, till
Joe showed up and joined right in.

Seems funny now, ‘cause
there was no music playing
and neither of us
minded or needed any.
We were our own melody.

We went back to class,
each waiting for the other
to spill his secret
for a laugh. But we didn’t.
That’s how we knew we’d be friends.

Thanks to Joe and another good friend, Garvey finds the confidence to try out for concert choir, and his success with singing helps him strive toward healthier management of his weight problem.

GARVEY’S CHOICE is a feel-good story. Garvey’s newfound talent leads to healthy self-confidence and an improved personal relationship with his father.

This is an important story because of Garvey’s weight problem. For years, experts in public health have warned that the U.S. is suffering catastrophic health crises due to widespread obesity and the related epidemic of Type II diabetes. Diets that include too much soda, junk food, and processed food combine with sedentary lifestyles. The result, according to the CDC, is that one in three American children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and over one-third of American adults are obese and at risk of dying prematurely. Therefore, it’s great to see this issue as part of the story.

For some, GARVEY’S CHOICE will be a quick and easy read. It’s approachable, short, and there is a lot of white space. For others, those who enjoy a memorable turn-of-phrase and who like to poke around in the stitching and see how an author weaves words into a poetic pattern, this is a tasty treat to savor.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
Profile Image for Elizabeth☮ .
1,497 reviews11 followers
January 19, 2018
This is written in an ancient poetry form called Tanka that originates in Japan.

I give the author credit for sticking to the arduous pattern of:
Line 1 - 5 syllables
Line 2 - 7 syllables
Line 3 - 5 syllables
Line 4 - 7 syllables
Line 5 - 7 syllables

That isn't easy to pull off and she does so effortlessly.

The story is about Garvey who is a young man in high school that is trying to find his place. He has a strained relationship with his father who values athleticism over Garvey's love of reading and looking at the stars.

As Garvey gets older, he finds solace in food and this becomes the cause of him being overweight and the object of derision. Garvey begins to find a safe place when he decides to join choir. This also becomes a bridge to building common ground with his father.

This is an easy read, but I felt pulled in a lot of directions. The initial focus seems to be Garvey's love of chess and his interest in books and outer space, but then that takes a back seat to the weight issues he has and whether he would like to join choir.

I would recommend reading this one for the conciseness of the form. My favorite line: "Choose the name you answer to. No one can do that but you."
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,014 reviews117 followers
November 18, 2016
"Smile showing up like hope till ugly whispers from last year echo in memory, scraping that smile from my lips."
Received at BEA Chicago 2016
Writing a book all in verse must be the hardest way to write a book. You not only have to make your work stand out, but you must grasp the reader in a lot fewer words.
This one comes with a heavy topic. The words bleed and cry with the turn of each chaptering page.
Garvey is overweight and kind of nerdy. With one friend who encourages him in everything he does, there are always bullies just a step behind to tear down his spirit. His dad included. Never accepting the fact that not everyone is athletic.
Being talked into accepting his talent gives him the confidence he needs to not only grow as a person, but to have a better relationship with his family.
With one strong loyal person in your corner, you can conquer the world.
Profile Image for Katherine.
514 reviews19 followers
January 18, 2019
What Garvey wants most is a way to connect and escape the isolation he feels from others his age and from his own family--well, from his dad.
This probably sounds all-too-familiar, which is why I feel this verse novel could be an excellent tool for reluctant readers. The language is simple and the story moves lightning-quick. Furthermore, this could be a remarkable opportunity to introduce readers to poetry different from the "strictly classics" content included in many school curricula. Most significant to me is that this simple little book tackles some pretty tough issues in a way that feels authentic and hopeful.
Profile Image for Jade Crowell.
28 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2017
This is a decent book. To read it you must have a strong grasp of inference and alluded messages. The reason why is this book has minimal text and the messages are kind of hidden within the lines of poetry. The message it sent was good, a chubby kid that can't get along with his dad is lost and only has one friend. He finds himself through chorus and also finds a friend there. And once he tells his dad they become close. Meanwhile, he is working out. A good message, but very cliche. All in all, it was good and it was a quick read, it only took me about 35 minutes.
16 reviews3 followers
October 17, 2017
Garvey's Choice is an amazing book and it is one my all time favorite Maine Student Book Awards. Some of the decisions Garvey makes is spectactular considering his dad is always trying to change Garvey's choices and trying to force him to do stuff Garvey isn't interested in. I give this book a four star.
Profile Image for Austin Poulin.
33 reviews15 followers
March 20, 2018
This was a good book. The character Garvey was conflicted with a decision that was effected because of the people around him, mainly his family. It was an EXTREMELY quick read so it was hard to do journal work on but it was still a fun book to read. I recommend this to anyone who likes a good realistic fiction book.
Profile Image for Aidan Lind.
29 reviews23 followers
January 5, 2018
I like the style this book was written in. The short poems showed you enough to understand what was happening. Each page was like information concentrate, while short the packed a punch. This book was good and I liked the concert part towards the end. Definitely a must read, and undoubtedly a short read. Overall a pretty good book.
Profile Image for Serenity.
1,035 reviews7 followers
October 1, 2018
Every time I read a novel in verse that I really enjoy, I wonder why I don't read more. This is a very sparse book, but it manages to pack a lot in.

Garvey and his dad just don't connect. Garvey is an intellectual, his dad wants him to be an athlete. Garvey is also overweight, and struggles with name-calling. With the help of some friends, he finds a way to shine.
Profile Image for Christine.
1,133 reviews13 followers
September 5, 2018
A super quick read that is packed full of emotion and life lessons. Garvey is on a journey of self discovery and I loved every minute of it. Nikki Grimes is amazing! Written in Tanka it is a joy to read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 895 reviews

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