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Multi-Award Winner Starts the Middle School ROW 2015-2016 Year!

August 28th, 2015 | Posted by etownsend in September | 2015-2016 | Middle School

crossover with sealsThe Crossover by Alexander Kwame. Houghton Books for Middle School AgeMifflin Harcourt, 2014.

We are so thrilled to start the ROW year off with this amazing book! It’s powerful! The styles of poetry and rap as well as the sports and family stories are electric and appeal to so many readers! — The ROW Middle School Literacy Advisory Committee

Read the CCBC annotation:

Josh Bell is a talented middle school basketball player, as is his twin brother Jordan. They learned from their dad, Chuck “Da Man,” who played in the Euroleague before retiring from the game. When Jordan gets a girlfriend, Josh resents that his twin no longer does as much with him, and he takes his frustration out on the court during a game one day, almost breaking Jordan’s nose. It creates a huge rift between the boys and gets Josh banned from playing. The tension between the brothers is wonderfully portrayed within the greater dynamic of this African American family where there is a lot of love and laughing but also consequences when expectations are unmet. Meanwhile, their mom, principal of the boys’ middle school, is also worried about their dad’s health. Hypertension runs in his family and he not only isn’t taking care of himself but he’s doctor-averse. This element of the plot builds to a moment readers can see coming when their dad has a heart attack, yet it’s shocking, as sudden death is, when he dies. Kwame Alexander’s narrative has two styles—straightforward prose poems and vibrant, rap-like poems in which Josh describes the basketball action. Josh also likes language and occasional poems have Josh exploring the meaning of specific words that connect to what’s happening in his life, such as the one titled “ca-lam-i-ty” (“As in: The HUGE bald patch / on the side / of my head / is a dreadful / calamity.”). Josh’s voice is vivid, funny and moving in this fast-paced and poignant story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start discussion with these questions:

  1. A theme of this book is family relationships. How do these relationships change over the course of the book?
  2. Evaluate the format of the book. How does the novel in verse format help to develop the characters and the story? How does the use of different fonts and typefaces affect the reader’s understanding of the story and characters?
  3. The author uses three style of poems to tell the story. One style uses the twin’s SAT vocabulary homework; another style acts like Josh’s rap. What do these different styles show us about Josh? Pick one of these styles to tell your thoughts about the book.
  4. Describe a particular scene or character that you are able to visualize vividly in your mind. What did the author do to create that vivid image?

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