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The Crossover (The Crossover Series) Hardcover – March 18, 2014
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: "…when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering…. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile….Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal.
The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences—Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks—both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both. Grades 6-12. --Gail Bush
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I'm not the intended audience for this book -- I don't particularly like basketball, I'm well past school age (by a lot), and I'm not really all that fond of poetry -- so I had reason to suspect that I might not like this book. However, I'm an omnivorous reader, and appreciate good writing of all sorts, and by the end I found that I enjoyed it a lot. I do think it’s a rather strange choice for the Newbery, although it is very creative. So it’s a very different book, but the story itself is universal. I’m glad I read it.
These kids were immediately sucked into the story. They loved the dynamics between the twin brothers, and the confidence of the narrator. They loved the father's pride in his son and that the father's language and taste was cheesy and dated.
I can't thank the author enough for writing something that sounds so real, so relevant, so current, for boys who want to recognize themselves and their families on the page. It's not easy for an adult to write authentically for children using current language and icons that appeal to children. The boys in my group didn't know all of the basketball stars in the book - I needed to tell them who Magic Johnson was, for example - but they are a bit younger than the intended audience.
The entire work is told in verse and it's beautifully done, as Alexander takes full advantage of the format to craft visually lovely free verse that truly leaps off the page. It's a book that's very much meant to be viewed, although part of me is curious to listen to the audiobook so I can experience how the narrator interpreted various portions of the book. What ultimately works best here is that the characters are all believable and best of all, there are no "bad guys" here. Even though we're really only given the perspective of one of the two brothers, it will be very easy for readers of all ages to interpret how either brother is feeling at almost any given point of the book- an element that I'm sure is going to be the focus of many, many school lectures.
I can easily see this book becoming a staple of multiple classrooms and for good reason. It's amazingly well crafted and even better- it's fiction that will appeal to any age and any gender. This book deals with a lot of difficult topics, from growing up to family issues to various different things that just about every child will deal with when they're young and I whole heartedly recommend that parents read this book as well and discuss it with their children and heck, maybe even make up a few verses for themselves.
Most recent customer reviews
His writing is lyrical. Honest. Warm. Uncomfortable. Show-not-tell. Everything.Read more