Have you read a 200-page book full of poetry? Well my guess is no. but if you WANT to read one, I have the perfect book for you! It’s the one and only The Crossover, a novel in verse.
I am a big fan of basketball; I sometimes shoot hoops during school recess. Based on my own experience, I know basketball is not just about winning. It’s not easy to do basketball; it’s not easy to do anything. Even if you are the best of the best.
The Crossover follows the story of Josh Bell (aka Filthy Mcnasty) and Jordan Bell (aka JB) as they play basketball and go on with their normal middle school lives. Each is talented in his own way, but together they’re unstoppable. When they were young, they were the best of brothers and friends, but over the course of this novel, their relationship becomes strained. But even if they argue or are mean to each other, they are still brothers. And their dad, a former professional basketball player, wants his sons to follow in his footsteps.
This book is about friendship and grit. Josh emulates the kind of courage we would all like to have – the courage to fail, and to believe that it is OK to lose. Josh doesn’t give up; he just gets up the next day and practices even harder for the next game.
But for a really good book, there are also some cons. This book mainly focuses on basketball, which is not always a good thing, unless you REALLY understand the language of basketball (e.g. swish, swoop, crossover). In addition, the novel in verse format is challenging - you have to pay attention to the sounds of the words, the way the words are written on the page, and the way one poem flows on to the next. This book is also pretty sad at times (I don’t want to give more details because that would be a spoiler!). Finally, one of the problems I have with the story is that it is ONLY told from Josh’s perspective—if some of the poems were written from the father’s or JB point of view, then I would be able to better understand their emotions and that would make the story more interesting.
This book was written by Kwame Alexander in 2014 and won the Newbery Medal in 2015 (Yay!). One of my favorite passages is:
leave his hands
like a bird
skating the sky,
So if anyone is looking for an emotional, but exciting book to read, try The Crossover.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!
Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? Let us know in the comments below!