The Crossover and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

New and Fabulous

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Recommended for Grades 6-12. I LOVE this book! The story revolves around basketball. But underneath it all, it’s really about family. Twin boys are stars of their middle school basketball team, mentored by their father, a former professional basketball player. When one of the boys falls for his first girlfriend, spending more time with her and less time with his brother, the relationship between the twins becomes strained as the other twin struggles to find his place in the new configuration of relationships.

The plot kept me interested from beginning to end. But it is the writing that is one-of-a-kind. The way it is told had me from page one. Written like a long poem, the word choices are delicious. And the rhythms add a musical quality that intensified my experience of the narrative. Listen to this: “My shot is FLOWING, Flying, fLuTtErInG OHHHHHHHH, the chains are JINGALING ringaling and SWINGALING Swish.”

I am not the only one who loves this book. The Crossover won top honors: the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Award. A great read.

Oldie but Goodie

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is another book that has rhythmic appeal. It is targeted at little ones, ages 2-5. Frankly, I read this to my kids from infancy. The writing style is a natural for reading out loud to baby with exaggerated dramatic emphasis. Example: Lines such as “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh No. We’ve got to go through it. Swishy swashy. Swishy swashy. Swishy swashy.” I like to read the original book version because I enjoy creating my own rhythms and cadences. But you can buy an interactive version that gives you sound cues. I haven’t read this version so I can’t give you a review but you might want to check it out. There is also a great reading by the author on You Tube that you might enjoy.

What did you think of these books? Do you have other poetic books to recommend?

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