Nick is a twelve year old who loves soccer, just like his best friend Cody. Both of their teams have even been invited to the same elite soccer tournament! But the big soccer game is in jeopardy for Nick. Something is off with his parents and the bullies have targeted Nick and Cody again. He’s also got a major crush on April (hence the unwanted attention from the bullies). There is still no telling how this season is going to work out for Nick.
I loved Kwame Alexander’s Newbery winning Crossover, and in fact was fangirling over that novel to my friend at ALAMW without realizing that Alexander was standing right behind me! Thankfully, he was already engrossed in conversation, so I wasn’t completely embarrassed in a potentially very awkward situation. Anyway, as I had hoped and this follow up is just as good. Also written in verse, this novel’s narration happens through rhythm and rhyme, and black out poetry while also introducing some fantastic new vocabulary. I learned more than a couple new words myself!
I also thought that this middle-grade novel did a great job of keeping the reader interested through pacing, while also tackling some big issues appropriately. Racism, divorce/parent separation, first crush, and bullying are all addressed. Also, soccer? That’s going to go over really well with this age group in my area!
by Kwame Alexander
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016