Reston author Kwame Alexander’s latest work, Booked, is being released on Tuesday, April 5.
Booked is a followup to the teen novel The Crossover, which earned Alexander the prestigious Newbery Award in 2015. The Crossover is a basketball story written in hip-hop style free verse.
Booked is written in the same way, but this book takes on soccer.
Nick Hall lives and breathes soccer. But when he’s sidelined by an injury, his word-loving father takes the opportunity to try to instill a love of reading into his reluctant son. Nick’s mother leaves for a job out of state, he and his best friend hit the skids, he’s dealing with a bully, and on top of all of that, he has to navigate the highs and lows of a first crush.
With an impressive array of poetry styles — free verse, acrostics, haiku — and the pacing of a soccer match–at times leisurely and thoughtful, at others frenetic and heart-stopping — Booked is both poetry for Lionel Messi fanatics and a sports novel for those more likely to memorize a sonnet than kick a soccer ball.
Kwame Alexander once again uses his signature blend of fast-paced verse, combined with sports lingo and rhythmic raps, to create an accessible mix of drama and poetry.
Alexander says he is a former reluctant reader as well, and he hopes his books will show young readers, in particular African-American boys, that books can be as exciting and fun as sports or video games.
He also says he never really played soccer — but the themes are universal.
“I used to play a lot of basketball,” he said in an interview. “I was average. Tennis was my sport. I was one of the top players in the state of Virginia when I was in high school. Now, I just do Zumba, which I know you’re probably thinking, ‘that’s not a sport,’ which is exactly what I thought until I took my wife’s Thursday night Zumba class and I felt like I’d run 10 miles and did 100 squats. But, it was fun too. Also, I play a mean game of ping pong.”
Alexander also says that the biggest change in his life since winning the Newbery Award is the ability to bring more poetry to the people.
“Seriously, the biggest change in my life is I get to travel to a lot more schools and libraries and conferences to share my love of poetry and reading with young people and teachers and librarians,” he said. “That’s a pretty awesome responsibility and a lot of fun (and frequent flyer miles).”
Alexander will make several book signing appearances in the DC area in upcoming days. See the schedule on Kwamealexander.com. He will also do private events at Lake Anne and Terraset Elementary Schools in Reston tomorrow.
Photos courtesy Kwame Alexander.com