Review of The Crossover

The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander; illus. by Dawud Anyabwile
Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    218 pp.
9/19    978-1-328-96001-6    $22.99
Paper ed.  978-1-328-57549-4    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-1-358-12816-8    $8.99

Alexander's Newbery Medal–winning verse novel of the same name (rev. 5/14), about African American twins and middle-school b-ballers Josh and JB Bell, is an ideal choice for graphic-novel adaptation, with its on-court action, swaggering narrative voice, and poignant emotional pitches. Anyabwile's (of Alexander's Rebound, rev. 7/18, and the graphic novel version of Walter Dean Myers's Monster) angular, comics-style illustrations in shades of black and white—and, appropriately for a basketball story, orange—dynamically share space on the pages with the hand-lettered-looking text. Every mid-game scuffle, fast break, and "KERPLUNK / TO THE FLOOR. FOUL" comes alive in the motion-filled art. Yet the same goes for the story's more tender social interactions ("and just like that JB and the new girl are sipping sweet tea together"), moments of familial intimacy, and later scenes of heartbreak surrounding the boys' father. The original novel's success mingling accessible poetry with basketball, middle-school dynamics, and Black boyhood is reinforced in Anyabwile's impressive visual interpretation.

From the November/December 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Katrina Hedeen

Katrina Hedeen is former managing editor and projects editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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