In this middle grade novel-in-verse by the Newbery Medal-winning and Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning author of The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick 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.
National Book Award Long List
New York Times Bestseller
Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/
can’t nobody cop you…
In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER, soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick 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. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.
This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!
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.
to the sound
of Mom arguing
on the phone
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.
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
Better yet, why couldn’t
he be a cool detective
a sleek silver
convertible sports car
like Will Smith
in Bad Boys?
Instead, your dad’s
a linguistics professor
with chronic verbomania*
by the fact
that he actually wrote
called Weird and Wonderful Words
* 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
he almost had a cow.
You’re the only kid
on your block
in THE. ENTIRE. FREAKIN’. WORLD.
who lives in a prison
He calls it the pursuit of excellence.
You call it Shawshank.
And even though your mother
forbids you to say it,
the truth is
2017 ILA-CBC Children's Choice List
Book Links’ Lasting Connections 2016
Kirkus Best of 2016
Nerdy Book Club Nerdies 2016 Poetry/Novels in Verse
New York Times Bestseller
San Francisco Chronicle Best of 2016
Washington Post Best of 2016
BookPage Best of 2016
"A novel about a soccer-obsessed tween boy written entirely in verse? In a word, yes.Kwame Alexander has the magic to pull off this unlikely feat, both as a poet and as a storyteller. " —The Chicago Tribune
"This lively, touching middle school soccer story is full of fun." —Common Sense Media
* "A satisfying, winning read." —Kirkus, STARRED review
* "Alexander skillfully juggles verse styles to realistically capture Nick's humor and smarts, passion for soccer, and vulnerability when being bullied, having surgery, or facing his parents' troubled marriage. Emotionally resonant and with a pace like a player on a breakaway..." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
* "Alexander understands reluctant readers deeply, and here hands them a protagonist who is himself a smart, reading-averse kid who just wants to enjoy the words that interest him on his own terms. With accessible poetic forms and engaging formatting, Booked ’s pages will be turned swiftly and enthusiastically." — Horn BookMagazine, STARRED review
* "Middle-school readers and their advocates will surely love Alexander’s joyous word play and celebration of reading." — Booklist, STARRED review
"Newbery-winning poet Alexander once again brings to life a novel in verse that equally captures the rapid-fire excitement of a soccer match and the palpable pain of a young boy whose family is falling apart. Another winning goal for Alexander and middle school readers alike." —School Library Journal
"This is a fantastic book with a never-ending supply of new words like “onomatophobia” and “yobbery” that will leave readers full of new words and ideas. This is an absolute must-have for any library serving tweens." — VOYA
"A powerful story that will leave the reader breathless, right to the very end." —BookPage Children's Top Pick
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