By Terreece Clarke,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Soccer player faces divorce, bullies in fast-paced novel.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's some sophisticated vocabulary, but the author provides both context clues to the meanings of these words as well as definition footnotes. He presents this little vocabulary lesson in a lighthearted way that makes learning the words funny and greatly increases the chances that readers will remember what they mean.
Strong messages about conflict resolution, friendship, coping with divorce, and striving for excellence in academics.
Positive Role Models
Both young students and adults serve as positive role models. Even when we see examples of bullying, we see people who stand up for others and rally against bullying. Adults in the book don't only act as supportive sounding boards for the middle schoolers but also reveal their own personalities and show vulnerability.
Violence & Scariness
Bullying results in a couple of fistfights and kids being shoved to the ground. There's also a story about a fistfight that ruptured another middle schooler's eyeball.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Typical budding boy-girl middle schooler relationships.
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A mixed-race child is called racist names, including "Blackie Chan," "chopsticks," "half-rican," and so on. People are also called "stupid" and "ignorant." A malapropism has the word "orgy" in it.
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Products & Purchases
Some brand names used for scene setting, including Doritos.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Booked, by Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander (The Crossover), is a novel in verse that centers on a middle school soccer player who struggles with his family going through a divorce, bullying by schoomates, and middle school romance. There are a couple of fistfights, some name-calling ("stupid, "ignorant"), and racist names used to insult a student of Asian Ghanian descent. Parents should be prepared to talk about these topics.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
This novel in verse tells the story of Nick, who has on his mind what every middle school soccer lover does: soccer, playing soccer video games, avoiding school assignments, and more soccer. Just as his plans for a fantastic soccer season are getting started, he learns his parents are getting a divorce. Navigating middle school gets even harder when Nick's bullies come back to school, his best friend has to play on another team, and his favorite rapping librarian keeps trying to get him to read all kinds of dumb books. Will Nick ever get his plan to become a world soccer star back on track?
Is It Any Good?
This lively, touching middle school soccer story is full of fun, whether you're a soccer fan or not. At times, it moves with the breakneck speed of a soccer game -- complete with sudden halting stops of defeat. The sneaky and hilarious way author Kwame Alexander introduces "weird" yet cool vocabulary words is a delightful part of this realistic look into middle school life.
While somewhat lighter than Alexander's The Crossover, Booked still deals with serious life issues for middle schoolers, including bullying, racism, divorce, and education. Kids will find it relatable, and parents and educators will love the positive messaging about family, friendship, and learning.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the bullying in Booked. How can you stop bullies in their tracks before their actions lead to violent physical confrontations?
How can you let your friends who are experiencing difficult times, such as going through a divorce, know you're there for them if they would like to talk?
Families can talk about the importance of reading for pleasure and finding books you really enjoy. Nick hates all his assigned reading materials but enjoys the books his friends suggest. What are some great books you'd recommend to friends?
- Author: Kwame Alexander
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: April 5, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: December 4, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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