The Crossover

by Kwame Alexander (2014)

An African-American teenage narrator.  Basketball.  And poetry.

These are the elements that Kwame Alexander weaves together in his Newbery Award-winning novel, The Crossover.

Josh is a young man who loves basketball.  He loves playing it with his brother, JB.  He loves competing with JB, and he loves playing with him as a teammate.

His father, an ex-pro now consigned to being a spectator with bad knees, loves basketball, too.  He teaches Josh the lingo, the pride, yes, the trash-talking, and the moves.  Like the crossover dribble, designed to fake out a defender so the man with the ball can go speeding past him to the basket.

Alexander uses actual poetry to articulate not only the poetry of basketball – but the poetry of Josh’s mixed feelings as a teen-ager.  In The Crossover Josh must grapple with girls, and mis-understandings over girls; the stress and pressure of injuries in competitive, championship sports; the pressure of expectations and support from his well-meaning parents; differences of opinions between his parents about what’s best for Josh; and the demands of his teachers and peers.  You know, all the typical stuff American teen-agers have to deal with!

These components make The Crossover a fascinating middle school opportunity for exploration via One School, One Book.  Imagine reading it as a community, students talking about Josh’s perspective and decisions, students bringing some of Josh’s questions – or his parents’ answers – home to discuss with their parents.

These are the elements that make One School, One Book tick.  And in The Crossover, they’re presented in quick, lucid, rich chapters as poems – choice language for your students, teachers, and families to experience and relish and share together.

"Just finished up our month long One School, One Book program. We read Bud, Not Buddy. We ended with a Family Night at school and families came to read the last chapter together. The response was amazing! The feedback we have received has been so positive. We are already looking forward to our next book!"

Jan Wise