Book Review: 'The Playbook'

Feb 6, 2017

Kwame Alexander has written two novels in verse. Each verse/voice is distinct and fun to read.

Crossover, a recipient of the coveted Newbery Medal, is the story of 12-year-old twins Josh and Jordan, both basketball players. Brotherhood conflicts are ages old, but this journey of two boys finding their way, on and off the court, is told with a fresh spirit. Here is a pre-game quote: "With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat," one twin recites, "DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,”

In a follow up novel, Booked, Alexander writes about family, friendship, love, and bullying as his 12-year-old character kicks his way, in verse, around the soccer field.

On Valentine’s Day he releases The Playbook. Alexander has written a lyrical motivational book that begins with a section of warm up, followed by four quarters, including half-time, before we end in overtime. The four quarters’ themes -- Grit, Motivation, Focus, and Teamwork and Resilience -- are introduced with an essay followed by a set of Alexander’s rules. Written in verse, each rule is accompanied by an inspirational quote by an athlete or heroic figure.

Here is rule #39:

It’s Okay to
Take Time Out
Slow Down
Huddle
Breathe
Regroup
Refocus
Restart

It is accompanied the words of Maya Angelou: “All great achievements require time.”

With illustrations and photographs by Thai Neave, this Playbook is a comfort and a nudge for those days when you’re about to give up.

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