cover image The Crossover

The Crossover

Kwame Alexander, illus. by Dawud Anyabwile. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-328-96001-6

In this graphic novel adaptation of Alexander’s 2015 Newbery-winning novel, Anyabwile’s clean lines, athletic characters, and free-form layouts capture the fluid poetry of basketball and the helplessness and confusion of early adolescence. Middle school basketball star Josh “Filthy McNasty” Bell navigates sibling rivalry with his twin brother, JB, on and off the court. The two are neither clones nor opposites; they share plenty, but Josh tends to brood while JB runs cool. Josh’s jealousy over JB’s first girlfriend, Alexis, eventually takes a backseat to their father Chuck’s escalating health problems. A former Euroleague champion sidelined by a knee injury, Chuck has always been averse to medical treatment, provoking a family crisis. Alexander’s complex, affectionate family portrait is augmented by Anyabwile’s dynamic characterizations; when the boys’ father gets in a ref’s face and their mother pulls him back, each character’s pain is palpable on the page. With confident strokes and choice details—likenesses of rappers attending “five reasons I have locks,” movement-filled moments on the court, and a close-up on a saltshaker alongside an explanation of hypertension—the graphic version brings out the best in the original, as any good teammate should. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–12. (Sept.)