Author : Kwame Alexander
“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.
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.
Full Version: This book pulled me in from the start. I loved the characters of Josh and Jordan. They were so well developed that they became very real to me. After teaching middle school for 19 years I could see these two in my classroom, walking down the halls and being with their friends. Kwame Alexander did a fantastic job bringing them to life. Josh (the twin telling the story) was so realistic. He had the swagger I’ve seen middle schoolers have but he also didn’t know how to handle situations like his brother’s interest in a girl. Very realistic! Because of this, I care so much for these boys and ended up being put on an emotional roller coaster I kinda saw coming but hoped I was wrong about.
Some people are turned off when they see a book is written in verse or at the very least they are apprehensive. I know my students were the first time I had them read a novel in verse (yes I MADE my student!), but what they found was once they had the rhythm of the verse it read like any other novel they had read. And this one did just that. Within a page the verse became just part of the story only noticeable when Kwame Alexander decide he wanted you to see the movement or feel the emotions. I loved how then he would expand the letters or move them around the page, sometimes making some letters bigger or others smaller all so you could see and hear and feel the movement of the characters. This was mostly done during the basketball games, and I found that they pulled me into and let me see the action as if I was sitting in the stands. After reading it written in verse I can’t imagine it told any other way!
I do admit it could be a hard sell to get middle school kids to read it. It’s about basketball so that helps a lot! I think with good book talking and my reluctant readers realizing that books in verse read faster – I could garner interest.
Final thought – I see why it won the Newbery!