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Booked Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Kwame Alexander
We chat with the Newbery-winning author of The Crossover about his new novel.
You’ve written about basketball, now soccer. Do you play sports yourself?
I used to play a lot of basketball. I was average. Tennis was my sport. I was one of the top players in the state of Virginia when I was in high school. Now, I just do Zumba, which I know you’re probably thinking, ‘that’s not a sport,’ which is exactly what I thought until I took my wife’s Thursday night Zumba class and I felt like I’d run ten miles and did 100 squats. But, it was fun too. Also, I play a mean game of ping pong.
How did things change for you after you won the Newbery Medal for The Crossover?
In the words of that great poet, Jay-Z,
“I went from lukewarm to hot
Sleeping on futons and cots…”
or better yet, as Eydie Gorme sang,
“What a day this has been!
What a rare mood I'm in!
Why, it's almost like being in love…”
Seriously, the biggest change in my life is I get to travel to a lot more schools and libraries and conferences to share my love of poetry and reading with young people and teachers and librarians. That’s a pretty awesome responsibility and a lot of fun (and frequent flyer miles).
What is the most rewarding thing about being a poet?
Being able to make someone feel. Something. Anything. That is powerfully rewarding.
Nick’s mother has a somewhat unusual job – are you a fan of horse racing?
I’ve ridden a horse exactly once. And, that was a pony. When I was ten. I know they say you’re supposed to write what you know, but I agree with Toni Morrison, who says sometimes you got to write what you don’t know. That’s kind of exciting and revealing and fresh to me. But, I’m a fan now. I may get a horse.
How do you feel about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement happening in children’s publishing?
It’s a big part of the civil rights movement of our day. How do we create equity and equality in the images and ideas that enable All of our children to imagine a world of possible, that empower All of our children to dream a better world, is the most important question we can ask ourselves as parents, teachers, and librarians.
The Mac, and his t-shirts, are great! Is he based on a real person?
I love The Mac. And, his sneaks and shirts are so friggin’ cool. He is based on a whole lot of real librarians and awesome teachers that I know. I shall post all of their pictures on twitter and Instagram on April 5, 2016, the day Booked is launched. Please follow me @KwameAlexander and #GetBooked.
You spend a lot of time in schools. What do you hope the students take away from your visit?
That poetry is cool.
That books are cool.
That I am cool.
That they want to read my books.
That they want to read. Anything.
Many of your books involve first love. Any advice to budding Casanovas?
Did you have a favorite book when you were in elementary or middle school?
Any book about Muhammad Ali was my fave in middle school. I was a huge boxing fan, but also Ali was the coolest. He made words dance when he spoke. I wanted to do that. And, I did. On the tennis court. In my red high top Chuck Taylors and brown corduroy shorts I talked trash on the court. My opponents were beat before the first volley.
Who is your favorite poet?
My favorite poet is Nikki Giovanni-Pablo Neruda-Langston Hughes-Naomi Shihab Nye-Mary Oliver-ee cummings- Haki Madhubuti
What are you working on now?
I am writing a few new picture books, a YA novel about my senior year in high school which was outta control, and a prequel to The Crossover, called Rebound, which is about Chuck 'Da Man' Bell when he was twelve years old. It’s a pretty busy year.
From School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer, and he and his best friend Coby have big plans for winning the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup, the renowned world youth soccer tournament, even though they will be playing on opposing teams. Besides the big game, Nick has a lot of other things on his mind. For one thing, his mother wants to move away to pursue her dream of training race horses, and his linguistics professor father is pressuring him to improve his vocabulary by reading the dictionary. Throw in the twin eighth-grade tyrants who relentlessly want to pound him and weekly lessons at Miss Quattlebaum's School of Ballroom Dance & Etiquette, and his life at Langston Hughes Magnet School of the Arts is pretty hectic. But school is also where "the Mac" can be found, Langston's resident rapping, dragonfly-loving, red mohawk-wearing librarian and Nick's favorite adult. And then there's April, Nick's current crush. Newbery-winning poet Alexander once again brings to life a novel in verse that equally captures the rapid-fire excitement of a soccer match and the palpable pain of a young boy whose family is falling apart. Peppered throughout are useful and amusing vocabulary words as well as wise-cracking yet sage life lessons from a beloved librarian. Authentic characters and amusing situations abound, making this story one that will be welcomed by readers of all levels. VERDICT Another winning goal for Alexander and middle school readers alike.-Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OHα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Best of 2016
Nerdy Book Club Nerdies 2016 Poetry/Novels in Verse
New York Times Bestseller
San Francisco Chronicle Best of 2016
Washington Post Best of 2016
BookPage Best of 2016
"A novel about a soccer-obsessed tween boy written entirely in verse? In a word, yes.Kwame Alexander has the magic to pull off this unlikely feat, both as a poet and as a storyteller. " —The Chicago Tribune
"This lively, touching middle school soccer story is full of fun." —Common Sense Media
* "A satisfying, winning read." —Kirkus, STARRED review
* "Alexander skillfully juggles verse styles to realistically capture Nick's humor and smarts, passion for soccer, and vulnerability when being bullied, having surgery, or facing his parents' troubled marriage. Emotionally resonant and with a pace like a player on a breakaway..." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
* "Alexander understands reluctant readers deeply, and here hands them a protagonist who is himself a smart, reading-averse kid who just wants to enjoy the words that interest him on his own terms. With accessible poetic forms and engaging formatting, Booked ’s pages will be turned swiftly and enthusiastically." — Horn BookMagazine, STARRED review
* "Middle-school readers and their advocates will surely love Alexander’s joyous word play and celebration of reading." — Booklist, STARRED review
"Newbery-winning poet Alexander once again brings to life a novel in verse that equally captures the rapid-fire excitement of a soccer match and the palpable pain of a young boy whose family is falling apart. Another winning goal for Alexander and middle school readers alike." —School Library Journal
"This is a fantastic book with a never-ending supply of new words like “onomatophobia” and “yobbery” that will leave readers full of new words and ideas. This is an absolute must-have for any library serving tweens." — VOYA
"A powerful story that will leave the reader breathless, right to the very end." —BookPage Children's Top Pick
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Booked by Kwame Alexander, shows off its ankle breakers and nutmegs with its amazing action, creativity and humorous language.Read more