Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kwame Alexander's "Booked" Doesn't Make You Just Want to Read More Poetry, It Makes You Want to Write Poetry.

It started with Barb, who showed me her staff rec of The Crossover, the Newbery-medal-winning novel from Kwame Alexander.

"With a
and a j
               p (up)
            and a
this book scores BIG
in a TALE of 2 twin
teen brothers
and how
their LIVES FACE different
(The Crossover review from Barbara Katz)

Let me just say this was a bit hard to format and I apologize if I got any of the details wrong.

So then I read Booked, Kwame Alexander's new novel, which came out on April 5, and the effect was hypnotic. I was compelled.

"Dad demands (and thinks it’s best).
Mom competes (but yearns for more)
Coby dribbles (and is there for his friend).
April teases (but might be interested).
Mr. Mac throws (rhymes and stories).
Mrs. Hardwick bores (but means well).
Dean and Don push (and pummel).
Life happens (both good and bad).
And through it all, Nick grows (a little)
. And that’s why Kwame Alexander kills it (with his newest novel).
I loved it (and you will too)."
(Booked review from Daniel Goldin)

And then I got a rec from Tim, who was also taken by Kwame Alexander's new novel.

"Nick Hall is a boy of
12 years, with
about a great girl named April
and a top soccer tournament,

over his loving parent's split
plus nasty bullies Dan 'n Don,

and with
on the soccer pitch facing his best friend Coby,
and with words he'd rather not use.

Nick's being Booked, by
his father's homemade Weird and Wonderful Word dictionary,
his teacher's assigned novels,
and wild librarian Mr. Mac's persistent offerings.

Nick's got a big new world ...
and Kwame Alexander scores again with Booked!"
(Booked review from Tim McCarthy)

Now none of our verse holds a candle to Kwame Alexander's. This is all homage, sort of like the literary equivalent of fan fiction. Alexander's story is so compelling, his characters are so real, and his language is so effective and playful and moving, that you just can't help yourself. And if we can't help ourselves, can you imagine how a classroom of kids feels after reading Booked or The Crossover?

Barb actually wrote her review for Booked in prose.

"Like a whirling soccer ball, twelve year old Nick's life is spiraling out of control. Tough spins in his life include how his dad wants him to love words and books the way he does, and how his mom and dad don't get along anymore. Nick's bright lights are a girl named April, his best friend Coby, and a book loving rapper school librarian. Told in verses, soccer and books weave through Nick's days. Readers will cheer as Nick gradually starts to go along with the twists in his changing life, and comes to see the value in books and words."
(Booked review from Barbara Katz)

We're hosting Mr. Alexander at Boswell on Sunday, April 17, 3 pm. It's a free event and we expect to have a pretty full house, so I would suggest coming early. But if you can't come, Barb, Tim, and I would suggest you buy a copy of Booked and pass it around. You'll be moved and possibly inspired as well. Happy National Poetry Month!

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