The Crossover

This Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award–winning middle grade bestseller is now in paperback! Basketball and heartache share the court in this slam-dunk novel in verse.

"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 from Kwame Alexander. 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.

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  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544935204

  • ISBN-10: 0544935209

  • Pages: 256

  • Price: $8.99

  • Publication Date: 03/05/2019

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 10,11,12

  • Grade(s): 5-7

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 750L
    • Guided Reading Level X

Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times best-selling author of more than thirty-five books, including Rebound, the follow-up to his Newbery medal–winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game of Life, Swing, and the picture books Out of Wonder and The Undefeated, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.He is a regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, currently serving as their poet ambassador. He lives with his family in the UK. Visit his website at or find him on Twitter and Instagram @kwamealexander.
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  • reviews

    2015 Newbery Medal Winner 

    2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner 


    * "This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. . . . Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch." 

    Kirkus, starred review 


    * "Alexander fully captures Josh's athletic finesse and coming-of-age angst in a mix of free verse and hip-hop poetry that will have broad appeal. . . . This will inspire budding players and poets alike." 

    Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review 


    * "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-worth triumph to profound pain." 

    Publishers Weekly, starred review 


    * "Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heat and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk." 

    School Library Journal, starred review 


    "Concrete poems that simulate on-court action, the novel's organization into "four quarters" (plus "warm-up" and "overtime") and a smattering of their father's 10 rules of basketball--as applicable to life as they are to the game--will draw in less avid readers, and the fully-fleshed characters and Josh's spellbinding wordplay will keep all readers riveted to find out if the brothers can mend the breach in their once iron-clad bond" 

    Shelf Awareness 


    "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." 



    "The Crossover is destined to reach—and touch—readers who never gave basketball or poetry a second thought until now. It’s tough, muscular writing about a tender, unguarded heart." 



    "[Alexander]'s at the top of his poetic game in this taut, complex tale of the crossover from brash, vulnerable boy to young adult." 

    Washington Post 


    "Since poet Alexander has the swagger and cool confidence of a star player and the finesse of a perfectly in-control ball-handler, wordplay and alliteration roll out like hip-hop lyrics, and the use of the concrete forms and playful font changes keep things dynamic." 

    —Horn Book Magazine 


    "Kwame Alexander’s sizzling, heartfelt story-in-verse gives readers that rich sense of SWISH! we feel when a basketball drops perfectly through a net. Quick timing, snazzy cadence, a wealth of energy and deep affection for sports, family and life in general – it’s all here, in these gripping scenes." 

    —Naomi Shihab Nye, National Book Award Finalist 


    “The characters of Kwame Alexander's verse-novel entered my heart, as it showed the many ways in which the basketball, the truth, love, and life cross over and between us.” 

    —Marilyn Nelson, Newbery Honor winning author 


     "The Crossover is a masterful mix of rhythm and heart that tells the story of two brothers navigating the deep waters of love, loyalty, and championship play. Alexander’s verse is fluid and electric, poignant and wise, skillfully chronicling main character Josh’s tough lessons as he comes to realize that “true champions / learn / to dance / through / the storm.” 

    —Joyce Sidman, Newbery Honor winning author   


    "Bold! Explosive! Yet still gently poetic. I love The Crossover. Everyone will." 

    —Nikki Giovanni 


    "Kwame Alexander's cadenced basketball novel is a gem of poise and grace. His players come alive with the precision and control of an orchestrated musical composition. The poetry of the telling rings through to the heart. The Crossover  crosses over as a gift to all ages." 

    —Ashley Bryan, Two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner 


  • excerpts


    At the top of the key, I’m


    POPping and ROCKING

    Why you BUMPING?

       Why you LOCKING?

    Man, take this THUMPING.

    Be careful though,

    ’cause now I’m CRUNKing




    and my dipping will leave you








    G   on the floor, while I

    SWOOP in

    to the finish with a fierce finger roll . . .

    Straight in the hole:


    Josh Bell

    is my name.

    But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame.

    Folks call me that

    ’cause my game’s acclaimed,

    so downright dirty, it’ll put you to shame. My hair is long, my height’s tall.

    See, I’m the next Kevin Durant,

    LeBron, and Chris Paul.

    Remember the greats,

    my dad likes to gloat:

    I balled with Magic and the Goat.

    But tricks are for kids, I reply.

    Don’t need your pets

    my game’s so


    Mom says,

    Your dad’s old school,

    like an ol’ Chevette.

    You’re fresh and new,

    like a red Corvette.

    Your game so sweet, it’s a crêpes suzette.

    Each time you play


    If anyone else called me

    fresh and sweet,

    I’d burn mad as a flame.

    But I know she’s only talking about my game.

    See, when I play ball,

    I’m on fire. When I shoot, I inspire.

    The hoop’s for sale, and I’m the buyer.

    How I Got My Nickname

    I’m not that big on jazz music, but Dad is.

    One day we were listening to a CD

    of a musician named Horace Silver, and Dad says,

    Josh, this cat is the real deal.

    Listen to that piano, fast and free,

    Just like you and JB on the court.

    It’s okay, I guess, Dad.


    Boy, you better recognize

    greatness when you hear it.

    Horace Silver is one of the hippest.

    If you shoot half as good as he jams—

    Dad, no one says “hippest” anymore.

    Well, they ought to, ’cause this cat

    is so hip, when he sits down he’s still standing, he says.

    Real funny, Dad.

    You know what, Josh?

    What,  Dad?

    I’m dedicating this next song to you.

    What’s the next song?

    Only the best song,

    the funkiest song

    on Silver’s Paris Blues album:



    At first

    I didn’t like the name

    because so many kids made fun of me

    on the school bus,

    at lunch, in the bathroom.

    Even Mom had jokes.

    It fits you perfectly, Josh, she said:

    You never clean your closet, and

    that bed of yours is always filled

    with cookie crumbs and candy wrappers.

    It’s just plain nasty, son.

    But, as I got older

    and started getting game,

    the name took on a new meaning.

    And even though I wasn’t into

    all that jazz,

    every time I’d score,


    or steal a ball,

    Dad would jump up

    smiling and screamin’,

    That’s my boy out there.

    Keep it funky, Filthy!

    And that made me fee

    real good

    about my nickname.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544935204

  • ISBN-10: 0544935209

  • Pages: 256

  • Price: $8.99

  • Publication Date: 03/05/2019

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 10,11,12

  • Grade(s): 5-7

  • Reading Level:

    • Lexile Reading Level 750L
    • Guided Reading Level X

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