The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less: Josh and his twin brother JB both love basketball and are powering their high school team to the county championships. Their father, who was once a professional basketball player, has taught them everything they know about the game and couldn’t be prouder of their success. Although there has always been a good natured rivalry between the twins, the tension increases when JB gets a girlfriend. With his father’s health failing, Josh finds himself in a place that he’s never been before: alone.
My Take: I can understand why this verse novel won the Newberry Award this year. Kwame Alexander’s poetry captures well the emotional texture of Josh’s life, whether it’s the intensity of a basketball game or the simmering rivalry between twin brothers. The author’s use of ellipsis, of what is unsaid but understood, propels the narrative forward. Alexander never pesters the reader with details, but uses the verse form to put us in Josh’s shoes and allows us to feel what he feels. The final pages gave me goosebumps. Excellent read for ages 13+.
One Interesting Note About the Author: According to his website, Kwame Alexander has “written 18 books, owned several publishing companies, written for the stage and television (TLC’s “Hip Hop Harry”), recorded a CD, performed at schools and conferences around the world, produced jazz and book festivals, hosted a weekly radio show, worked for the U.S. Government, and taught in a high school.” Wow!