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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Crossover Redux

Josh Bell


is my name.

But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame.

Folks call me that

‘cause my game’s acclaimed,

so downright dirty, it’ll put you to shame.

My hair is long, my height’s tall.

See, I’m the next Kevin Durant,

Lebron, and Chris Paul.


On our Top Five post, THE CROSSOVER ended up in our collective top five, tied with THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH, in fact, after BROWN GIRL DREAMING, THE NIGHT GARDENER, and THE FAMILY ROMANOV.  It’s easy to see why from this opening stanza in the first poem: the voice is simply electric.  The poetry does a great job of capturing that voice and the energy of the story, and while I’m not sure that it’s consistently this fine, I do think it places this book solidly within contender territory.

Despite the brevity of this story, the characters are wonderfully realized and their relationships grown and change over the course of the story.  And yet the pacing is quick, and there’s plenty of external action to match the internal action (quite  a contrast to REVOLUTION, let me tell you).  It’s likely to appeal to plot-driven readers as well as character-driven readers, and as Nina mentioned previously it’s going to appeal to a broad segment of readers in the Newbery and Printz ranges.

Nina asked if there’s room on the Newbery roster for two nonfiction books, for both THE FAMILY ROMANOV and THE PORT CHICAGO 50 and I would ask the same thing of verse novels: Can we have both BROWN GIRL DREAMING (a foregone conclusion) and THE CROSSOVER.  I’d certainly like to think so.







Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at


  1. Mark Flowers says:

    There are several verse novels that I think are better works of literature than CROSSOVER, including BROWN GIRL DREAMING, but I can’t think of (m)any that use their verse forms as effectively. I never wondered for a second (as I usually do) what the book would sound like as prose, and I never questioned that Alexander’s verse was the best vehicle for the story being told. Really excellent use of form.

    As for substance–well, let’s say not as amazing as some of the other short-listed titles. Which is not to say it wasn’t a good story with good characters. It was. But I’d place it somewhere behind BROWN GIRL and FAMILY ROMANOV. Fortunately, I’m a form guy myself, and I actually might find myself arguing for this one in Oakland, depending on how the room plays.

  2. Nina Lindsay Nina Lindsay says:

    Yes, CROSSOVER is to BROWN GIRL DREAMING as, maybe, the NIGHT GARDENER is to MADMAN OF THE PINEY WOODS…. while these are both “novels in verse” their style and construction are completely different, and purposes, and energy.

    I haven’t re-read this one for a while, but what I find remarkable is how I can open to any page to re-enter the story and the characters. I appreciate how much the form and energy changes-up from page to page, while the voice stays consistent. And this is good poetry, which is a rarity in novels-in-verse. Sure it varies in impact and quality, as it must and as any novel-in-verse or collection of poems does, but there are many stand-alone-gems throughout, and the places that feel looser, like short-lined prose, still are effectively using the line break to carry emotional energy and voice.

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