By Kwame Alexander
Age Range: 10 and up
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 2014)
What to Expect: Sibling rivalry, humorous angst, great play-by-play action, well-turned phrases that capture the moment, day-by-day drama in a thoroughly likable family with sass.
There is so much to enjoy about this book:
First, the characters: Josh and Jordan Bell are twelve-year-old twins who live and breathe basketball. They are a formidable pair on the basketball court, thanks to their father, Chuck “Da Man” Bell, a former superstar with the European league who was once invited to try out for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their mother is the school principal. Both parents are loving and fair – and strict when they need to be.
The twins are inseparable buddies until a new girl with pink Reeboks appears at school. Suddenly Jordan has eyes for only her, and Josh, always half of a duet before, is now a solo. While Josh is dealing with separation angst, his mother is nagging his father to go to a doctor because of symptoms she’s noticed. But Josh’s father is afraid of hospitals and won’t even consider it. These two issues run through the book like counterpoint in a musical score.
Which brings us to the music of the author’s writing. The Crossover is told in verse – but what verse! Chapters are individual poems, sometimes rhyming, sometimes blank; sometimes sounding like hip-hop, sometimes just wonderful visuals, as when descending capital letters show a missed shot on the court, or get bigger as a player tries for a fast break. Always the poetry pushes the story along at a fast pace, and you are squarely in Josh’s head while events run their courses. Within that framework, every other character’s voice is clear as well.
“Basketball Rule #1: In the game of life/ your family is the court/ and the ball is your heart./ No matter how good you are,/ no matter how down you get,/ always leave/ your heart/ on the court.”
This is a book young people will probably want to read more than once, both for the themes in the story and for the author’s storytelling. It will appeal to middle grade readers who like sports – especially basketball – and coming of age stories.
About the Author
Kwame Alexander is a poet, children’s book author, playwright, producer, public speaker and performer. He conducts creative writing workshops in middle and high schools, often reaching more than 500 students monthly. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Washington, D.C. area. Visit him at www.bookinaday.org and www.facebook.com/KwameAlexanderBooks.
The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan. Discover more books like The Crossover by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Award Winning Authors, Books Written in Verse, Family Books, John Newbery Medal Winner, Sibling Rivalry, and Sports.
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