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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of
their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving
support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable
skills on the court: "…when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin
moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has
a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing,
aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering…. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish.
Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He
moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile….Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a
likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family
that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to
be read aloud. A slam dunk.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal.
From Booklist ( /gp/feature.html/?docId=1000027801 )
The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some
differences—Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks—both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game
of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an
assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When
life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished
author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond.
The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing
trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This
may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both. Grades 6-12. --Gail Bush
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