Book review: 'Booked' proves poetry can be cool, highly entertaining

Posted April 4, 2016
Updated April 7, 2016

"BOOKED," by Kwame Alexander, HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

Kwame Alexander seems bent on proving to middle grade and young adult readers that poetry is cool. His latest novel, “Booked,” demonstrates just that with its hip and entertaining poetry style.

Just like “The Crossover,” Alexander’s Newbery Medal-winning book, “Booked” is about a sports-obsessed boy. Nick Hall lives for soccer; he would rather play soccer than do anything else. But his world is turned upside down when his parents separate. Now, instead of focusing on the big upcoming soccer game, he’s plagued by insomnia as he worries about the future of his fractured family.

Things get more complicated when Nick’s mom leaves and he’s left living with his least favorite parent. Although his dad is famous in certain literary circles, Nick doesn’t appreciate his father’s constant nagging about preparing now for college. As he endures forced hours of reading, he misses the food and fun he had with his mom. Add being bullied at school and learning how to flirt with a girl, and Nick’s life has morphed into one he barely recognizes. Fortunately, he has a few good friends who are always on his side, and, although he denies it, the power of words helps him overcome many obstacles.

“Booked” is a fantastic novel written through a series of upbeat poems. Although it masquerades as a cool middle grade book about soccer, this novel can teach all ages life lessons about growing up, confronting difficult situations with bravery and the power of family. Readers should be prepared for laughter and tears as they read about Nick’s failures and triumphs and learn the definitions of some very cool words.

“Booked” is a pretty clean read that hints at a few profanities but never actually spells them out. There is little violence and extremely minimal romance. The emotions in this book come from children dealing with divorce and bullying.

Alexander resides in Virginia and is a New York Times best-selling author.

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She blogs at


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