Booked
by Alexander, Kwame






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.





Kwame Alexander is a poet, children's book author, playwright, producer, public speaker, performer, and winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal for his novel-in-verse, The Crossover. Alexander believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Washington, D.C., area. Visit his website at www.kwamealexander.com
 
 
 
 





*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.





Nick Hall is a bright eighth-grader who would rather do anything other than pay attention in class. Instead he daydreams about soccer, a girl he likes, and an upcoming soccer tournament. His linguistics-professor father carefully watches his educational progress, requiring extra reading and word study, much to Nick's chagrin and protest. Fortunately, his best friend, Coby, shares his passion for soccer—and, sadly, the unwanted attention of twin bullies in their school. Nick senses something is going on with his parents, but their announcement that they are separating is an unexpected blow: "it's like a bombshell / drops / right in the center / of your heart / and it splatters / all across your life." The stress leads to counseling, and his life is further complicated by injury and emergency surgery. His soccer dream derailed, Nick turns to the books he has avoided and finds more than he expected. Alexander's highly anticipated follow-up to Newbery-winning The Crossover is a reflective narrative, with little of the first book's explosive energy. What the mostly free-verse novel does have is a likable protagonist, great wordplay, solid teen and adult secondary characters, and a clear picture of the challenges young people face when self-identity clashes with parental expectations. The soccer scenes are vivid and will make readers wish for more, but the depiction of Nick as he unlocks his inner reader is smooth and believable. A satisfying, winning read. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





Gameplay

on the pitch, lightning faSt,
dribble, fake, then make a dash

player tries tO steal the ball
lift and step and make him fall

zip and zoom to find the spot
defense readies for the shot

Chip, then kick it in the air
take off like a Belgian hare

shoot it left, but watch it Curve
all he can do is observe

watch the ball bEnd in midflight
play this game faR into night.

Wake Up Call

After playing FIFA
online with Coby
till one thirty a.m.
last night,
you wake
this morning
to the sound
of Mom arguing
on the phone
with Dad.

Questions

Did you make up your bed?
Yeah. Can you put bananas in my pancakes, please?

Did you finish your homework?
Yeah. Can we play a quick game of Ping-Pong, Mom?

And what about the reading. I didn’t see you doing that yesterday.
Mom, Dad’s not even here.

Just because your father’s away doesn’t mean you can avoid your chores.
I barely have time for my real chores.

Perhaps you should spend less time playing Xbox at all hours of the night.
Huh?

Oh, you think I didn’t know?
I’m sick of reading his stupid words, Mom. I’m going to high school next year and I shouldn’t have to keep doing this.

Why couldn’t your dad

be a musician
like Jimmy Leon’s dad
or own an oil company
like Coby’s?
Better yet, why couldn’t
he be a cool detective
driving
a sleek silver
convertible sports car
like Will Smith
in Bad Boys?
Instead, your dad’s
a linguistics professor
with chronic verbomania*
as evidenced
by the fact
that he actually wrote
a dictionary
called Weird and Wonderful Words
with,
     get this,
footnotes.

* verbomania [vurb-oh-mey-nee-uh] noun: a crazed obsession for words. Every freakin’ day I have to read his “dictionary,” which has freakin’ FOOTNOTES. That’s absurd to me. Kinda like ordering a glass of chocolate milk, then asking for chocolate syrup on the side. Seriously, who does that? SMH!

In the elementary school spelling bee

when you intentionally
misspelled heifer,
he almost had a cow.

You’re the only kid
on your block
at school
in THE. ENTIRE. FREAKIN’. WORLD.
who lives in a prison
of words.
He calls it the pursuit of excellence.
You call it Shawshank.
And even though your mother
forbids you to say it,
the truth is
you
HATE
words.






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