Booked Review

Booked by Kwame Alexander

5/5 stars

314 pages

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 5, 2016)

This novel in verse story follows the life of twelve-year-old Nick Hall, a dedicated soccer star and word wizard.

Nick eats, sleeps, and dreams soccer. So does his best friend Coby. Nick and Coby are as tight as a pair of shin guards despite being on rival soccer teams. Dean and Don, the school bullies, are real mean dogs, and Nick and Coby must deal with their constant ridicule.

Nick’s dad is a linguistics professor with a bad case of verbomania, a crazed obsession for words, which is evidenced by the fact that he wrote his own dictionary called Weird and Wonderful words. Whether he wants to admit it or not, Nick has become quite the word wizard himself. Being forced to read his father’s dictionary may have played a part in his ability to spout off weird and wonderful words.

Former rapper turned librarian, Mr. Mac is the coolest adult at school. Always sporting a witty literary shirt like Irony: the opposite of wrinkly and colorful converse, Nick looks up to him for all types of advice.

Nick is at the top of his game. He’s the star soccer player on his team. He’s getting ready to ask April to be his girlfriend. He’s crushing it in school. But his world is quickly turned upside down when his parents make a bombshell of an announcement. Disappointment rains down on Nick. Will he have what it takes to overcome it all and be a star again?

There are so many things I like about this novel. My top three would be the weird and wonderful words, all things Mr. Mac, and Alexander’s writing style.

Throughout the pages of this novel are weird and wonderful words that many readers might not know. Similar to his father’s dictionary, Nick provides footnotes to the meaning of each of the words. Some of my favorite include malapropism, ragabash, and onomatophobia.

Mr. Mac is my favorite character. He is a passionate librarian who loves getting kids to read new books. He has a great sense of humor, and I absolutely love all his literary puns. Although he is a funny guy, he also possess a lot of wisdom. One of the best pieces of advice he gives to Nick is, You get one chance to love, to be loved. If you’re lucky, maybe two.

Booked is a real ace of a story. Each poem flows from one page to the next. You’re sucked in from the very first page. One of my favorite parts is when the author adapts Langston Hughes’s poem “A Dream Deferred,” which happens to be one of my favorite poems.

What Happens to a Dream Destroyed?

Does it sink
like a wrecked ship in the sea?

Or wade in the water
like a boy overboard?

Maybe it just floats
around and around…

Or does it drown?

I found this story to be captivating, and I plan on using it as a read aloud next year with my students. Although it is fiction, this story addresses many real and important topics such as heartache, bullies, friendship, family, love.

If you’re looking for something action-packed and emotional, or just a good quick read, give this one a try.