Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Slam Dunk: The Crossover

The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
237 pages
ISBN: 9780544107717

Praise for The Crossover

Soaring, swift, and strong, The Crossover, a novel told in verse, will appeal to vast majority of readers. Not just a sports book, the novel tells the story of a close-knit family including Mom, the assistant principal and Dad, an ex-basketball prodigy whose career is cut short due to an injury. Twins Josh and Jordan Bell are both basketball stars on their middle school team. The boys are as close as brothers can get and their relationship is even stronger due to the good natured competitive games they play with each other.

Josh Bell, aka Filthy McNasty, loves his dreadlocks. They give him power and he even calls them his "wings." In "Ode to My Hair," Josh says, "If my hair were a tree/I'd climb it./ I'd kneel down beneath/and enshrine it./I'd treat it like gold/then mine it..." Later, after losing a bet to Jordan, he is forced to part with his beloved locks.

The poetry is both tough and punchy yet sometimes sweet and subtle. When a new girl turns Jordan's head in the cafeteria, Josh says, "JB's eyes are ocean wide, his mouth swimming on the floor..." Jordan's concern ends up being well deserved. The brothers disagree when Josh gets jealous but like brothers, it's over before either of them can let it fester.

Change is inevitable. Growing up is tough even in a loving family. The brothers will need each other more than ever to face the future.

The Crossover just won the Newbery Medal, but that's not why I'm recommending this book. I received this book some time ago but discovered it again when trimming down my "To Read" pile. I picked it up and read the book jacket. Once I read the first few pages, I was in love. From this ex-high school English teacher and poetry lover to you, READ this book and share it with READERS. It is a book that calls for reading aloud. Students and kids will love to HEAR this book. Give them that gift.

This would make a fantastic gift for anyone who loves sports and/or basketball. Fans of hip-hop and rap will appreciate the beats. Poetry lovers will also be huge fans. Reluctant readers will devour this in one sitting and will likely want to read it again.

Highly, highly recommended. A MUST HAVE. All grades.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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