Garvey has a lot to deal with in his life — he is overweight, he has a sister who is a natural athlete, something Garvey’s father wishes Garvey was, and he has to deal with middle-school bullies. But Garvey has a best friend, Joe, who really gets him and helps him deal with all his adversity. Lunchtime is the best time for Garvey because he spends it with Joe and because he gets to eat, but when Joe’s schedule is changed, Garvey is alone again. Joe encourages Garvey to join the chorus. Garvey has a great voice and he makes a new friend, a boy with albinism, who helps Garvey learn to deal with the bullies. Garvey’s real success is in chorus, where he finds his voice in more ways than one.
Nikki Grimes has written an entire novel in tanka poems. It is so beautifully written, readers will be lost in the lyrical lines. Young readers, often reluctant to read poetry, will be so taken with the well-developed story and engaging characters, they will forget it is all poems. This lovely book deserves to and will garner wide readership among the middle-grade set.