Genre: middle grade sports fiction
Length: 237 pages
Setting: probably North Carolina, present day
Font: Adobe Garamond Pro
Interest: I wanted to read the kids a book in verse and this book has been staring at me at the library for a while. I thought it might be a safe introduction to the genre since it was about sports.
Summary: Jordan, nicknamed JB, and Josh, nicknamed Filthy, Bell are identical middle school twins who also happen to be basketball stars. The book follows the family as their JV basketball team makes a run for the championship. While the basketball is going great, Filthy’s home life has more problems. JB has a girlfriend and doesn’t have as much time for his brother as he used to. Their father (who used to be a basketball star as well) is having heart problems and refuses to see a doctor. He collapses while playing ball with Filthy and never recovers.
Final thoughts: This was a great book. It took a bit of convincing to get the kids to agree to try the book. Once they realized the poems weren’t all rhyming and instead told a story, they were into it. There were three kinds of poems – the standard, move the plot along poems, the rapping poems about playing basketball that also had a visual component, and word definition poems that defined a word from the previous poem and used it in a few sentences. The rapping poems were probably the most fun to read. I can’t decide if its better to read the book and see the visual representation of the words on the page or listen to the poems and hear the rhythms of the words. I probably had the best of it since I got to hear and see the words.
There was a surprising amount of emotional depth to this story that was slightly masked by the light writing style. The boys are in middle school and trying to deal with new relationships with each other and their friends. We also have the story line with the father who refuses to get treatment for obvious heart problems because his father died after going to the doctor. He ultimately dies of a heart attack in his 40s, so we deal with the grief of the father’s death and the decision of whether or not to play in the championship basketball game when your whole team is depending on its two star players to win the game. Even though none of us are really into basketball, we still enjoyed the book. In fact, we saw the next book by Kwame Alexander in the library, Booked about Mr. Curiosity’s favorite sport – soccer, and immediately had to get it.
Awards won: Newbery Medal Award and Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner in 2015
Title comes from: Crossover is a basketball term and it was one of the definition poems.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #60 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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