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Crossover

by Kwame Alexander

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
237 pages
ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Ages 10-13

Josh Bell is a talented middle school basketball player, as is his twin brother Jordan. They learned from their dad, Chuck “Da Man,” who played in the Euroleague before retiring from the game. When Jordan gets a girlfriend, Josh resents that his twin no longer does as much with him, and he takes his frustration out on the court during a game one day, almost breaking Jordan’s nose. It creates a huge rift between the boys and gets Josh banned from playing. The tension between the brothers is wonderfully portrayed within the greater dynamic of this African American family where there is a lot of love and laughing but also consequences when expectations are unmet. Meanwhile, their mom, principal of the boys’ middle school, is also worried about their dad’s health. Hypertension runs in his family and he not only isn’t taking care of himself but he’s doctor-averse. This element of the plot builds to a moment readers can see coming when their dad has a heart attack, yet it’s shocking, as sudden death is, when he dies. Kwame Alexander’s narrative has two styles—straightforward prose poems and vibrant, rap-like poems in which Josh describes the basketball action. Josh also likes language and occasional poems have Josh exploring the meaning of specific words that connect to what’s happening in his life, such as the one titled “ca-lam-i-ty” (“As in: The HUGE bald patch / on the side / of my head / is a dreadful / calamity.”). Josh’s voice is vivid, funny and moving in this fast-paced and poignant story.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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