So last week was Children’s Book Week and I made a little something for a table at our library. Here it is:
Children’s Book Week is a great opportunity for children to put in their final votes for the Children’s and Teen’s Choice Book Awards and to do things together with their family that encourage reading and a love of literature. I know what you are thinking, every week is Children’s Book Week, right? Right. But this is an opportunity for us all to come together and celebrate a love of reading as one. Check it out, it’s FUN!
Anyway, having earlier today pulled down this display since Children’s Book Week was last week and we have a Lorax to put up (that’s another story), I took the remaining display book nominees for the Children’s and Teen Book Awards and put them on my desk ready for re-shelving. Which one literally fell into my lap as I did so? Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes. Now, I do listen when strange coincidences occur, and since I just today reviewed One Last Word, I could not pass up the opportunity to read this book.
So, here’s another super quick review.
Garvey’s Choice is written in the form of Tanka poetry (of which Grimes provides us with an explanation of structure in the back of the book). It is a lovely story of Garvey, who is who he is, much to the frustration of his father. Garvey is an astronomy-loving, chess-playing, book-loving boy whose father wishes for a football jock. Garvey struggles with his differences. He struggles with the strained relationship that he has with a father who doesn’t seem to see him. He struggles with not living up to the expectations of his most major family role-model. And eventually Garvey struggles with his weight and with the harsh words that come from others for being the ‘fat kid.’
But Garvey has a friend in Joe and Joe encourages Garvey’s love of music. Garvey slowly learns that there are more important things than being perfect. That friendship needs to be shared “so it won’t get too heavy” (p.59). Garvey gains another beautiful friend in Manny who teaches him that by being who you are and doing what you love, people can see you. You have control over what you name yourself (you’ll have to read to see what this cryptic message means).
This is a lovely story crafted beautifully by Grimes’ poetry. It has a nice symmetry to it and is a relatively quick read, with much opportunity for discussion. It’d make a wonderful addition to a book club (age recommendation is grades 4-8), and the resolution to the story sends a positive message that we all need to hear from time to time.
Have fun reading this one!