I read “Crossover”, by Kwame Alexander, after seeing Penny Kittle, who recommended it for boys. I have to admit, when I picked it up and saw all of the poetry in the book, I was turned off. I’ve read books with prose before, and always feel like I don’t get a good sense of the character. “Crossover” was unique. The first poem was like a rap song: it had rhythm to it. I could hear the character reciting it to me. I immediately fell in love with characters Josh and Jordan Bell. These boys are twins who are crazy at basketball. We see the world through the adolescent eyes and voice of Josh Bell. Kwame becomes a middle grade boy in this book, he’s incredibly believable. When Josh’s brother starts pulling away to find his own identity, Josh acts out and gets himself into a difficult predicament where he loses not only his brother, but basketball. The story takes the reader through the thought process of a teenager when they are presented by the first problem they have that they can’t solve easily. Josh loses so much, but gains his own identity without basketball or being a Bell twin. The first poem in the book, I used as a quick write to introduce poetry to my grade 8s. We recited it and then mimicked the rhythm created by the poem. The poem “Dear Jordan” cut me.
For anyone who has a sibling and has let distance begin to divide you, the poem is heartbreaking. Again, I used this as a quick write and showed the kids what I would write to my sister, but have struggled to say to her.