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Kwame Alexander

Book - 2016

Nick Hall is the star player on the soccer team until a bombshell announcement shatters his world.

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Subjects
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [2016]
Language
English
Physical Description
314 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780544570986
0544570987
Main Author
Kwame Alexander (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Nick doesn't think he is extraordinary, but it is true that he and his best friend, Coby, are stupendous soccer players. In addition, Nick's dad has written a dictionary, which means that Nick has a vocabulary that stupefies ordinary 12-year-olds. And there's the fact that the lovely April seems to like him. Abruptly, however, Nick's life crumbles when his mom announces she is leaving home to take a job in Kentucky, and a ruptured appendix lands Nick in the hospital, keeping him from playing in a prestigious soccer tournament. It sucks. Alexander treats readers to the same blend of poetry, humor, and insight that graced his ­Newbery-winning The Crossover (2014), enhanced with a thrilling literary zest. Mr. Mac, the school librarian, is a former rapper who, after undergoing brain surgery, joyfully embraced his true calling peddling books to middle-school students. Book after wonderful book is suggested to smart but reading-averse Nick. It's not a small thing to incorporate big issues like bullying and divorce into eminently readable free verse that connects boys, sports, and reading. While some may find Mr. Mac's passion a bit overwhelming (while others may find it simply delightful), middle-school readers and their advocates will surely love Alexander's joyous wordplay and celebration of reading.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Newbery winner and New York Times best-seller? Alexander's latest will surely have a lengthy waiting list. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences—Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks—both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. 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. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Alexander scores again with this sports-themed verse novel, a companion to his Newbery Medal–winning The Crossover. Eighth grader Nick, a devoted soccer player and fan, enjoys some friendly competition with his best friend, Coby. What Nick doesn't like is words—neither the ones in the dictionary that his linguistics professor father wrote (and is making him read) nor the ones he learns in his honors English class. But the school's quirky rapping librarian, Mr. Mac, helps Nick discover both a love of reading and a way to connect with the girl of his dreams. Alexander skillfully juggles verse styles to realistically capture Nick's humor and smarts (showcased in witty footnoted definitions of words like "cachinnate" and "mewling"), passion for soccer, and vulnerability when being bullied, having surgery, or facing his parents' troubled marriage. Emotionally resonant and with a pace like a player on a breakaway, Nick's story will have readers agreeing: "The poems/ were cool./ The best ones were/ like bombs,/ and when all the right words/ came together/ it was like an explosion./ So good, I/ didn't want it to end." Ages 10–12. Agent: Arielle Eckstut, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 6–10—Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer, and he and his best friend Coby have big plans for winning the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup, the renowned world youth soccer tournament, even though they will be playing on opposing teams. Besides the big game, Nick has a lot of other things on his mind. For one thing, his mother wants to move away to pursue her dream of training race horses, and his linguistics professor father is pressuring him to improve his vocabulary by reading the dictionary. Throw in the twin eighth-grade tyrants who relentlessly want to pound him and weekly lessons at Miss Quattlebaum's School of Ballroom Dance & Etiquette, and his life at Langston Hughes Magnet School of the Arts is pretty hectic. But school is also where "the Mac" can be found, Langston's resident rapping, dragonfly-loving, red mohawk-wearing librarian and Nick's favorite adult. And then there's April, Nick's current crush. Newbery-winning poet Alexander once again brings to life a novel in verse that equally captures the rapid-fire excitement of a soccer match and the palpable pain of a young boy whose family is falling apart. Peppered throughout are useful and amusing vocabulary words as well as wise-cracking yet sage life lessons from a beloved librarian. Authentic characters and amusing situations abound, making this story one that will be welcomed by readers of all levels. VERDICT Another winning goal for Alexander and middle school readers alike.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH [Page 143]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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. [Page 132]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Nick Hall is the star player on the soccer team until a bombshell announcement shatters his world.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A follow-up to the Newbery Medal-winning The Crossover finds 12-year-old soccer aficionado Nick discovering the power of words while wrestling with problems at home, standing up to a bully and trying to impress the girl of his dreams. Simultaneous eBook. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In this electrifying follow-up to Kwame Alexander's Newbery winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage. A New York Times bestseller and National Book Award Longlist nominee.Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.  This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match."A novel about a soccer-obsessed tween boy written entirely in verse? In a word, yes. Kwame Alexander has the magic to pull off this unlikely feat, both as a poet and as a storyteller. " —The Chicago TribuneCan’t nobody stop youCan’t nobody cop you…ILA-CBC Children's Choice List· ALA Notable Children’s Book · Book Links’ Lasting Connections · Kirkus Best Book · San Francisco Chronicle Best Book· Washington Post Best Book· BookPage Best Book

Review by Publisher Summary 5

In this electric follow-up to Newbery Medal'winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take the field as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can't nobody stop you/ can't nobody cop you . . . Nobody can stop Nick . . . at least not on the field. Off it is a different matter. But helping him along as he deals with bullies and problems at home are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. This heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

Review by Publisher Summary 6

In this electric and heartfelt follow-up to Newbery Medal–winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take the field as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.  

Review by Publisher Summary 7

In this electric follow-up to Newbery Medal–winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take the field as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/ can’t nobody cop you . . . Nobody can stop Nick . . . at least not on the field. Off it is a different matter. But helping him along as he deals with bullies and problems at home are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. This heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

Review by Publisher Summary 8

In this electric and heartfelt follow-up to Newbery Medal'winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take the field as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.