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The Crossover Hardcover – March 18, 2014
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Kwame Alexander
We talked to the Newbery Medal–winning author, whose new novel, Booked, is available in April
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).
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.
Many of your books involve first love. Any advice to budding Casanovas?
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
Top customer reviews
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.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
This book is so much more than a sports novel for young adult readers. Told in verse, this book tells the story of Josh, a middle school basketball player dealing with a lot of emotional issues in his life. His twin brother has just started dating his first girlfriend, his father is sick....and Josh does not know how to always handle his emotions in the proper way. This book is a powerful read and will resonate with high school readers as well as adult readers. I see myself recommending it to my students in the fall.