Baskets and Beats

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander (2014)

Opening Line: “Josh Bell / is my name / but Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame.”

I’m not one to pick up a sports novel without a good reason. I don’t have to read Mike Lupica or Tim Green to know their easy sells to my boys and a few of my more athletic girls (although Green’s Unstoppable surprised me in a good way). But after hearing about this one at the ISLMA conference this year,  “I can do a sports novel-in-verse.”

Like is probably true of most sports books, The Crossover is about way more than basketball. It’s about family, brothers, trauma, loss, and the magic of language. This book screams to be read aloud. In fact, I did read it aloud quite a bit (although under my breath so the mister wouldn’t hear me from the next room and roll his eyes). Josh is not only a master on the court, where he and his twin brother, J B, lead their junior high team to the championships. He’s also a master of verse, as he plays with rhyme, tempo, voice, rhythm, and structure on the page, allowing the reader to feel his story as well as read it.

This will be an easy sell in my library, and one I can actually push from firsthand experience!

Quick read, a perfect mix of goofy fun and honest emotion. 2 stars.

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