Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Crossover (Kwame Alexander)



Middle Grade and Teens (YA)

Sample Poem
Dad, this girl is making
Jordan act weird.
He’s here, but he’s not.
He’s always smiling.
His eyes get all spacey
whenever she’s around,
and sometimes when she’s not.
He wears your cologne.
He’s always
texting her.
He even wore loafers to school.
Dad, you gotta do something.

Dad does something.
He laughs.

Filthy, talking to your brother
right now
would be like pushing water uphill
with a rake, son.

This isn’t funny, dad.
Say something
to him. Please.

Filthy, if some girl
done locked up JB,
He’s going to jail.
Now let’s go get some doughnuts.

Publisher Summary
"A bolt of lightening on my kicks...
The court is sizzling.
My sweat is drizzling.
Stop all that quivering.
Cuz tonight I'm delivering.

raps basketball phenom Josh Bell.  Thanks to his dad, he and his twin border, Jordan, are kings on the court, with crossovers that make even the toughest ballers cry.  But Josh has more than hoops in his blood.  He's got a river of rhymes flowing through him--a sick flow that helps him find his rhythm when everything's on the line.

As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change.  When Jordan meets the new girl in school, the twins' tight-knit bond unravels.  In this heartfelt novel, basketball and brotherhood intertwine to show Josh and Jordan that life doesn't come with a playbook and, sometimes it's not about winning.

The Good
Alexander creates life-like characters that middle grade readers can connect to.  Josh (Filthy) and Jordan (JB) are typical seventh graders dealing with love, friendship, school, and family issues. They have sensible parents who are devoted to each other and the boys.  Much of the novel involves positive interactions between the parents and the twins. 

Rather than chapters, the narrative is broken into four quarters and overtime. The text is in mostly free style poetry, but there are some rhyming ones as well. Most of the poems are written like short vignettes or as conversations. Sometimes the narrator muses on intriguing words or basketball rules. While some figurative language is incorporated, overall the poems are highly accessible to the target audience. 

While Josh's love for basketball comes to the forefront as the novel begins, I quickly realized he is not a flat character.  He is smart, loyal, and sensitive. Words fascinate and delight him. Josh is devoted to his family, especially JB. There is much more to discover about him.  

The Bad
My attitude. Well, at least at first. After several recommendations, I started listening to the audio book. I will keep it 100%. I rolled my eyes with all the basketball talk and wondered if I could make it through it.  I do not regret sticking it out.  The Crossover defies expectations.

The only “bad” about the text is a couple subtle references to the parent’s sex life. Very subtle, but creeped me out anyway.  No young person wants to put parents and sex together in the same thought.  At least I hope not! 

The Brilliant
The significance of the title is what stands out most to me.  The crossover is a basketball move that Josh is known for.  The books is about basketball, so at first it seems that is the reason for the title.  However, I found that is much more.  First, the boys are crossing over into adolescence.  With that crossover, comes hormones and girls.  JB’s relationship with a girl comes between the brothers.  They are moving into a new phase of their lives and relationships.  Another crossover is in Josh’s attitude.  He begins a bit flippant and arrogant, which leads to a bad decision.  Fortunately, he has good parents and coaches.  Their consequences prompt him to reflect and to grow into maturity.  Finally, a character crosses over into death, impacting the lives, growth, and attitudes of Josh and others.  The multiple layers are rich for discussion and reflection.

Even though I am not a sport’s fan, many tweens and teens are. There is a huge enthusiastic audience for this type of book. Whether a sports lover or not, I cannot more highly recommend this Newbery and Coretta Scott King winning novel.  

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.  Hop on over to Shannon Messenger's blog for other middle grade recommendations.


  1. I do need to read this one. Books in prose are not my favorite, but I've heard too much to keep me away from CROSSOVER. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I've seen this one before but hadn't picked it up because it seemed like such an odd fusion of pieces that might not fit together. I appreciate your recommendation, though, and have added it to my TBR pile. MMGM win! lol


  3. Thanks for visiting my blog last week when I talked about this. I smiled while reading about you rolling your eyes from all the basketball talk. You know I'm not a basketball fan either, but this book is wonderful. The audio book must have been amazing to listen to.


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