Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Crossover

The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander
Recommended Ages: 12+

Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan, a.k.a. JB, are seventh-grade basketball phenoms at Reggie Lewis Middle School. But their dream team is in for trouble when a girl comes between the once inseparable brothers, and when their father - a one-time international sports celebrity - chooses to ignore warning signs of a serious health problem. After an impulse to lash out gets him suspended from the team in the middle of a championship season, Josh feels more alone than ever before. Before he gets back into the good graces of his team, his mom, and his brother, he will have to face more responsibility than a trash-talking, hip-hop music addicted 12-year-old would have expected in his wildest dreams.

This is an excellent and fascinating book, told in a succession of poems in various forms, ranging from a Japanese Tanka to dramatic free verse, plus a number of rap songs enhanced by fancy typesetting, as though to guide the reader in performing them out loud. It spotlights complex family issues. It hints at a magical connection between two brothers, who can seemingly read each other's minds even when they aren't on speaking terms. And in the often proven and seldom matched manner of sports fiction, it taps into a strongly moving current of emotion.

This 2014 young-adult verse novel is both a Newbery Medal winner and a Coretta Scott King honor book. Its author, the founder of the Book-in-a-Day program that encourages teens to write, is a poet, TV writer, publisher, radio host, teacher, musician, globetrotting goodwill ambassador, and all-around mover and shaker who has also written the teen novels He Said, She Said and Booked, six poetry collections, four picture books including Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, and two non-fiction books about writing.

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