Monday, April 18, 2016

THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander: Celebrating Poetry Month with Novels in Verse




The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 237 pages, for ages 9 to 13)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): "With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I m delivering, " announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.


Why I recommend it:  This is so much more than poetry. The words practically explode off the page. The poems vary from rap to free verse to Basketball Rules to definitions of Josh's vocabulary words. So much imagination and artistry went into the writing, it's easy to see why this won the Newbery in January 2015 and was also named a Coretta Scott King Honor book. I'm not even a basketball fan, but I loved this book.

Favorite lines (from a poem called The Second Half on page 181):
                             
                         My brother is
                         Superman tonight.
                         Sliding
                         and Gliding
                         into rare air,
                         lighting up the sky


Bonus: This isn't just a novel about basketball and sibling rivalry. It's about a close-knit, loving family having to accept the father's illness.

What poetry are you reading for Poetry Month?



22 comments:

  1. This one is already on my list of books to read. Thanks for your thoughts and the snippets of verse you provided.

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    1. It's a fast-paced energetic read, Greg.

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  2. This was a wonderful book. I hadn't read many YAs in poetry form, and then I came across this one. I found it so enjoyable and engaging. Great book, great story, wonderfully expressed.

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    1. I consider this one MG, Elizabeth. But in either case, I agree!

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  3. I recently read this one too! It is sooooo good! I plan to review it shortly. I agree about the basketball. The characterization and language is so good you don't need to be a sport's fan to enjoy it.

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    1. That's right, Books4Learning. Glad to hear you like it too.

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  4. This sounds fantastic. I love the part you picked. Maybe boys would even like it.

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    1. Boys would definitely like this, Natalie, whether they're basketball fans or not.

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  5. I BAWLED like a baby at the end of this book. I adored it SO, SO, SO much.

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  6. I really enjoyed this book - looking forward to reading his next one!

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  7. I'm looking forward to Booked, I really enjoyed the poetry of Crossover too.

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  8. I have seen this one around, but I didn't know anything about it. Loved reading your thoughts! This sounds like an amazing read and I am a huge fan of poetry. I have been reading all types this month and enjoying every minute. ;)
    ~Jess

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  9. I love novels in verse. It's been awhile since I read one, but at one time I was reading them in the dozens, seeking them out on my Kindle. This looks like a good one.

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    1. I'm impressed that you read dozens of verse novels, Medeia!

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  10. This sounds good. And, like you, I don't even like basketball. :)

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    1. Interesting, Erik. For some reason, I love movies about basketball, like Inside Moves and Hoosiers, so it makes sense I would enjoy a book about basketball. I just never watch the actual games.

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  11. I had no idea that it was poetry month! (I'm very with it as you can see) But I have read the Crossover and enjoyed it, even though basketball wouldn't be my choice sport. I was also surprised by the ending. Woah! #plottwist :)

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    1. Yes, every April is National Poetry Month! And isn't it interesting how few of us here like basketball, but at the same time love this book. Yep, that was a different ending than I expected, but if you think about it, there was plenty of foreshadowing.

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