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…
Twelve-year-old Nick is a football-mad boy who absolutely hates books. In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel The Crossover, football, family, love, and friendship take centre stage as Nick tries to figure out how to navigate his parents’ break-up, stand up to bullies, and impress the girl of his dreams. These challenges – which seem even harder than scoring a tie-breaking, game-winning goal – change his life, as well as his best friend’s. This energetic novel-in-verse by the poet Kwame Alexander captures all the thrills and setbacks, the action and emotion of a World Cup match.
Alexander scores again with this sports-themed verse novel, a companion to his Newbery Medal winning The Crossover. Eighth grader Nick, a devoted soccer player and fan, enjoys some friendly competition with his best friend, Coby. What Nick doesn't like is words neither the ones in the dictionary that his linguistics professor father wrote (and is making him read) nor the ones he learns in his honors English class. But the school's quirky rapping librarian, Mr. Mac, helps Nick discover both a love of reading and a way to connect with the girl of his dreams. Alexander skillfully juggles verse styles to realistically capture Nick's humor and smarts (showcased in witty footnoted definitions of words like "cachinnate" and "mewling"), 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, Nick's story will have readers agreeing: "The poems/ were cool./ The best ones were/ like bombs,/ and when all the right words/ came together/ it was like an explosion./ So good, I/ didn't want it to end." Ages 10 12.