The Crossover: The Graphic Novel

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Crossover: The Graphic Novel Book Poster Image
Graphic adaptation captures basketball's power, poetry.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Crossover offers the opportunity to discuss sports culture, sibling rivalry, commitment to family, and the sacrifices people make for the ones they love.

Positive Messages

Families are important, and each member should take responsibility for his or her actions. Although athletics are important, education must also focus on academics. Problems can usually be solved through honest discussions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Bell family is depicted as hardworking, loving, and committed individuals who work together to achieve success. The twins' mother holds advanced degrees, and their father was a star athlete. Until Josh lashes out at Jordan, the boys enjoy a close relationship.


A boy deliberately lobs a ball into another's face, almost breaking his nose.


A boy has a girlfriend. He flirts with and kisses her.


Mild sports-related trash talk. Josh is known as "Filthy McNasty."


Mr. Bell enjoys Krispy Kreme donuts when he knows he shouldn't. Jordan spends a lot of money on Michael Jordan products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know at The Crossover: The Graphic Novel is an adaptation of Kwame Alexander's novel in verse about twin,12-year-old African American basketball players. Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, the book follows Josh and Jordon Bell as they deal with issues between them at home and on the court. The brothers start being very emotionally close to each other, but Josh doesn't think Jordon takes the game or his family seriously enough. There's some extremely mild kissing, one instance of purposeful violence, and only a sprinkling of on-court trash talk with no profanity.

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What's the story?

As THE CROSSOVER: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL begins, African American basketball players Josh and Jordan Bell are looking forward to a championship season on their junior high basketball team. Josh is totally committed, but his twin brother Jordan seems distracted by his new girlfriend. When Josh lashes out, he nearly causes permanent damage to his brother. Meanwhile, their father is not taking care of his health, and their mother is disappointed in Josh's rudeness. Will the family come together and be the supportive unit it once was?

Is it any good?

Sports are often seen as building character, and this action-packed and affecting coming-of-age tale uses basketball as a metaphor for commitment and achievement. In The Crossover, Kwame Alexander's energetic verse strikes the right note as he spins the story. Illustrator Dawud Anyabwile's dynamic drawing captures both the external and the internal struggles of the characters, on and off the court. An excellent choice for reluctant readers, the graphic novel of The Crossing has the narrative magnetism to attract more than just sports fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Crossover uses the subject of basketball to teach lessons about life in general. What do sports teach athletes about discipline and commitment? How should they be mixed with academics to make a fully rounded education?

  • Josh has a hard time dealing with his brother's new girlfriend. Are Josh's feelings about more than jealousy?

  • Why won't Josh's father see a doctor about his hypertension? How can you persuade a loved one to get the medical help they need?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports and graphic novels

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