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The Crossover

The Crossover

4.3 22
by Kwame Alexander

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2015 Newbery Medal Winner
2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner
New York Times Bestseller 

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his


2015 Newbery Medal Winner
2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner
New York Times Bestseller 

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander.

   Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Cornelius Eady
…Kwame Alexander's beautifully measured novel…is written in verse, but have no fear: Here, poetry is in service to the interior and exterior worlds of Josh, who plays forward to JB's shooting guard…Basketball is the novel's red-hot engine. It is the glue connecting the sons and source of the wisdom their father passes down…The biggest surprise of The Crossover is that, for all the bells and whistles of a young man's game, it is most boldly and certainly a book about tenderness.
Publishers Weekly
★ 01/20/2014
Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn’t lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: “I rise like a Learjet—/ seventh-graders aren’t supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!” Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh’s trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys’ father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh’s sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9–12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
2015 Newbery Medal Winner
2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner

• "This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. . . . Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch."
Kirkus, starred review

• "Alexander fully captures Josh's athletic finesse and coming-of-age angst in a mix of free verse and hip-hop poetry that will have broad appeal. . . . This will inspire budding players and poets alike."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

• "The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worth triumph to profound pain."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heat and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk."
School Library Journal, starred review

"Concrete poems that simulate on-court action, the novel's organization into "four quarters" (plus "warm-up" and "overtime") and a smattering of their father's 10 rules of basketball—as applicable to life as they are to the game—will draw in less avid readers, and the fully-fleshed characters and Josh's spellbinding wordplay will keep all readers riveted to find out if the brothers can mend the breach in their once iron-clad bond"
Shelf Awareness

"An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion."

"The Crossover is destined to reach—and touch—readers who never gave basketball or poetry a second thought until now. It’s tough, muscular writing about a tender, unguarded heart."

"[Alexander]'s at the top of his poetic game in this taut, complex tale of the crossover from brash, vulnerable boy to young adult."
Washington Post

"Since poet Alexander has the swagger and cool confidence of a star player and the finesse of a perfectly in-control ball-handler, wordplay and alliteration roll out like hip-hop lyrics, and the use of the concrete forms and playful font changes keep things dynamic."
—Horn Book Magazine

"Kwame Alexander’s sizzling, heartfelt story-in-verse gives readers that rich sense of SWISH! we feel when a basketball drops perfectly through a net. Quick timing, snazzy cadence, a wealth of energy and deep affection for sports, family and life in general – it’s all here, in these gripping scenes."
—Naomi Shihab Nye, National Book Award Finalist

“The characters of Kwame Alexander's verse-novel entered my heart, as it showed the many ways in which the basketball, the truth, love, and life cross over and between us.”
Marilyn Nelson, Newbery Honor winning author

 "The Crossover is a masterful mix of rhythm and heart that tells the story of two brothers navigating the deep waters of love, loyalty, and championship play. Alexander’s verse is fluid and electric, poignant and wise, skillfully chronicling main character Josh’s tough lessons as he comes to realize that “true champions / learn / to dance / through / the storm.”
Joyce Sidman, Newbery Honor winning author  

"Bold! Explosive! Yet still gently poetic. I love The Crossover. Everyone will."
Nikki Giovanni

"Kwame Alexander's cadenced basketball novel is a gem of poise and grace. His players come alive with the precision and control of an orchestrated musical composition. The poetry of the telling rings through to the heart. The Crossover  crosses over as a gift to all ages."
Ashley Bryan, Two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Ann Reddy Damon
Josh, nick-named Filthy McNasty, is a dred-headed basketball player. So are his bald-headed twin brother, Jordan, and his father who played in the NBA. Together, the twins dominate their middle school court with their father shouting from the bleachers and their mother, the assistant principal, trying to constrain their father. Josh relies on his family but things are falling apart. He has never known what it is like to be estranged from his twin brother, but then Alexis—Miss Sweet Tea—comes between them. He has never worried about his father, but starts to when he sees his dad reaching for his heart during a pickup game. Josh is growing up and crossing over, the hard way. While the story is compelling enough, what makes this verse novel excel is the poetry itself. The language paces the novel. Basketball games are succinctly captured in quick, staccato rhythms; languid free verse makes waiting for his punishment seem endless. Almost every page is an example of this synergy between diction and discourse. This book will appeal to both fans of basketball and fans of poetry. Teachers will love using this book for teaching language usage and vocabulary since much of the chapters are structured as definitions of words in the context of Josh's story. This quick read is highly recommended. Reviewer: Ann Reddy Damon; Ages 11 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
Gr 6–10—Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: "…when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering…. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile….Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-12-18
Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives. Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story. Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

At the top of the key, I’m
Why you BUMPING?
   Why you LOCKING?
Man, take this THUMPING.
Be careful though,
’cause now I’m CRUNKing
and my dipping will leave you
G   on the floor, while I
to the finish with a fierce finger roll . . .
Straight in the hole:

Josh Bell
is my name.
But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame.
Folks call me that
’cause my game’s acclaimed,
so downright dirty, it’ll put you to shame. My hair is long, my height’s tall.
See, I’m the next Kevin Durant,
LeBron, and Chris Paul.

Remember the greats,
my dad likes to gloat:
I balled with Magic and the Goat.
But tricks are for kids, I reply.
Don’t need your pets
my game’s so

Mom says,
Your dad’s old school,
like an ol’ Chevette.
You’re fresh and new,
like a red Corvette.
Your game so sweet, it’s a crêpes suzette.
Each time you play

If anyone else called me
fresh and sweet,
I’d burn mad as a flame.
But I know she’s only talking about my game.
See, when I play ball,
I’m on fire. When I shoot, I inspire.
The hoop’s for sale, and I’m the buyer.

How I Got My Nickname
I’m not that big on jazz music, but Dad is.
One day we were listening to a CD
of a musician named Horace Silver, and Dad says,

Josh, this cat is the real deal.
Listen to that piano, fast and free,
Just like you and JB on the court.

It’s okay, I guess, Dad.
Boy, you better recognize

greatness when you hear it.
Horace Silver is one of the hippest.
If you shoot half as good as he jams—

Dad, no one says “hippest” anymore.
Well, they ought to, ’cause this cat
is so hip, when he sits down he’s still standing, he says.

Real funny, Dad.
You know what, Josh?
What,  Dad?

I’m dedicating this next song to you.
What’s the next song?
Only the best song,

the funkiest song
on Silver’s Paris Blues album:

At first

I didn’t like the name
because so many kids made fun of me
on the school bus,
at lunch, in the bathroom.
Even Mom had jokes.

It fits you perfectly, Josh, she said:
You never clean your closet, and
that bed of yours is always filled
with cookie crumbs and candy wrappers.
It’s just plain nasty, son.

But, as I got older
and started getting game,
the name took on a new meaning.
And even though I wasn’t into
all that jazz,
every time I’d score,
or steal a ball,
Dad would jump up
smiling and screamin’,

That’s my boy out there.
Keep it funky, Filthy!

And that made me fee
real good
about my nickname.

Meet the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, children's book author, playwright, producer, public speaker and performer. He conducts creative writing workshops in middle and high schools, often reaching more than 500 students monthly. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Washington, D.C. area. Visit his website at www.bookinaday.org.

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The Crossover 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book very enjoyable to readgreat writing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book(:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was informative, and relatable.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This is a great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book id boss and whoever likes basketball will realy enjoy this.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Intresting. Not something that you would see in most books
Fritz409 More than 1 year ago
This book is about Josh and JB, twin brothers who love basketball. Their lives are filled with the sport and their father, who was a professional basketball player. Strife and worry rear their ugly heads, and Josh, the narrator, reacts to the situations like any junior high young man would do. What makes this book unique - and powerful in turn - is that it's written in verse. I had heard the author speak on "Weekend Edition" on NPR, and he intrigued me. I'm glad that I picked up this book. I'll definitely be recommending it to the YA readers in my life. It's a great book to help them appreciate the stories, emotions and life lessons that poems can give to us.
damonte More than 1 year ago
filthy mc nasty is a cool kid and his brother too josh bell there is a lot of action is this book thats why i like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No wonder it won the newberry medal!!!!!!! THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Like father, like son. Filthy is more like his father, than I think he saw himself to be. His father lived and breathed the game of basketball, his wife and family came before the sport but that was about the extent of the items that exceeded his fascination with the game. Being a basketball legend, his father led his twin boys into the court at a small age and disciplined them so that their love for the sport extended into their veins. He is their biggest fan, believing in them and pushing them to be successful. Their mother was not far behind in her love of the game and their children but it was the boys in the family who were consumed by the court, the sweat, the bouncing of the ball and the adrenaline of the game. Filthy McNasty and his twin brother J.B. were both stars on the court; both thirteen and each of them carrying a different talent onto the court making them a valuable asset to their team. Filthy is more devoted to the game though; he’s consumed by it just like his father was. Both individuals so devoted and so blind, like father, like son. J.B’s eyes begin to shift to the likings of Ms. Sweet Tea for his attention to basketball has now been diverted. J.B. realizes there is more to life than basketball and Ms. Sweet Tea starts to play an important role in his daily life. Tension starts to creep into the novel as I listened to it, slowly this shift occurs. J.B. has started to move his attention away from basketball, leaving Filthy alone for once in his life and the anger, frustration and let down you can feel in the language and the power of Filthy’s words. Filthy is not used to being alone, he’s not used to having to share his brother and this change is not welcomed. Dad’s health is deteriorating and why is all of this happening now? Mom’s the anchor in the family, her words are strong and she holds nothing back. She wants the world for them but she knows that they must do it for themselves. I think one of my favorite parts of this novel was the conversation between Filthy and his father in the hospital. Their question conversation where not one single answer is spoken was superb. The rapid fire questions, fired back-n-forth at each other, let you into the minds of these individuals and what they were really thinking. What a wonderful conversation tool, it really spoke volumes and cleared the air. I wasn’t too impressed with the ending, I don’t know what I would have done differently as an author, I just know as a reader, it didn’t settle right with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a very stange book and is written very differnet woukd like someone to write a reveiw befre i buy it if i buy it which wint happen cause THIS BOOK SUCKS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will be entering high school this fall and i enjoyed this summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh but hell never know plzzzzz
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Um no im rp ing with nick
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book a lot it makes me feel happy everytime i read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fourth grader and is a high leveled reader. I enjoy heroes of olympus and percy jackson. Please respond. I also love basketball
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fourth grader too and all the boys in my class and girls have read this before and it is good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand and post this on three other books an an iphone five wio
Anonymous More than 1 year ago