Written in verse, but reads more like a rap at times. It is very rhythmic, fast, entertaining. I also decided within three pages (poems) that I was going to buy this for the library. Josh Bell loves basketball and is a great player. This combines sports and poetry. I love a combination.
Because the narration is told through poetry, this is a fast read, but it’s also conversation and flows well. Boys who love sports books, which are most of my 7th graders, would probably give this a chance since it reads conversationally and not as a deep, lyrical poem, one in which they’d need to dissect. Fonts change, letters alternate between capitalization based on emphasis, and some pages have very few words – all make this very visually pleasing and entertaining.
The story itself is a basic one – teenage boy, great at basketball, the son of an professional basketball player, meeting girls, etc. There’s basic friendships, family discussions, and the focus on the game. In between poems that move the plot along are “Basketball Rules” which all offer advice for the game that can be interpreted as advice on life. They are goals for both becoming a better player and a better person.
My favorite line from his dad was, “Always shoot for the sun and you will shine” after, as 3 year-olds, they each shot a ball and they made it into the net.
The story continues focused on basketball and girlfriends, but when Josh and Jordan’s dad has a health scare even basketball can’t make it all better.
“Basketball Rule #10”
A lose is inevitable,
like snow in winter.
This is a great book for boys, reluctant readers, anyone trying to get kids to like poetry, and with a sad, but honest and hopeful ending.
Newbery Medal (2015, Coretta Scott King Award for Author Honor (2015), Charlotte Huck Honor Book (2015), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2016)