Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Crossover

Alexander, Kwame (Author)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014. 238 pages
First published: 2014
ISBN: 9780544107717 (hardcover)
9780544289598 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, dialogue, evocative language, language conventions, point of view

Awards

Newbery Medal – 2015
Coretta Scott King Honor Book – 2015

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Jordan and Josh Bell are 12-year-old identical twins and stars on their Junior High School’s basketball team. Their father, a former European league basketball player, both encourages and pushes his sons to excel on the court. Their mother is the assistant principal, more concerned with their father’s uncertain health than with sports.

Told through Josh’s extraordinary voice, this verse novel demonstrates his flair for language through the influences of hip-hop, rap and sound poetry. “The game is tied when JB’s soft jumper sails /tick/ through the air. /tock/ The crowd stills, /tick/ mouths drop /tock/ and when his last-second shot/ tic/ hits net, /tock/ the clock stops.” Poems are dynamic and accessible, often using both rhythm and rhyme to jive out a lively story of basketball and family dynamics. “The court is SIZZLING /My sweat is DRIZZLING /Stop all that quivering /Cuz tonight I’m delivering.”

Divided into six sections, starting with the “Warm-up” and moving on through the first to fourth quarters, time and overtime are key parts of the storytelling: from JB’s love interest that tears the two brothers apart, to the slow build-up towards their father’s inevitable heart attack.

What starts out as a rambunctious, rollicking young African American’s tale of crossovers and slam dunks, quickly becomes a more sober-toned meditation on the meaning of family, love and loss.

  •  

    Read the first two pages: what do you notice about the poems? Identify and discuss conventions of narrative poetry and verse novels found in the text.

  •  

    As a group, revisit the conventions of the verse novel at regular intervals during reading. How does the author make use of language, font, point of view and other techniques to build the narrative?

  •  

    Explore a variety of verse novels as part of a genre study or immersion into text prior to the production of narrative poetry on a topic of personal or social importance.

  •  

    Compare and contrast the first two poems of this verse novel. Jot down your observations in a notebook prior to sharing your ideas with the class.

  •  

    To what is Josh referring when he says, “Sometimes it’s the things that aren’t said that kill you?” Explain how this could apply to other parts of his story.

  •  

    With a partner and using this verse novel as a model text, write a narrative poem using some of the same techniques. Find a creative way, oral or written, to present your narrative poem to classmates.

  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development