Kwame Alexander

Solo by Kwame Alexander

I hope I remember the lesson I learned from this novel written in verse, Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, in my personal and professional life.

“I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.”

Libraries are the great equalizer; but sometimes when planning programs and services, we forget to ask our community what do you need?  Below is my favorite poem in this book of striking poems that create a beautiful narrative of a young man coming into his own.

People Are People

Two hundred dollars is more than a kind gesture.  I will ask
Elvis to accept half.
That’s not necessary.  I just want to get on with this.  I’m tired of waiting.

. . . .

. . . .

Are you nervous?
Very. But I’m excited too.  This is finally happening.

I’m happy for you.  I am glad you came here.
Me too.

Your father does not need to build as a dormitory, please
tell him that.
He seems serious, and I mean, you do need it.

How do I say this without sounding ungrateful?
Huh?

The people who come here to help never ask us what
need.  They tell us.

. . . .

One church started the school, another promised to fix it.
One group built two wells, but didn’t leave any tools or
show us how to repair it.
That’s why you to have to walk so far for water?

I am appreciative.  We are all appreciative.  These things
help us, but it would be nice to be asked sometimes what
we want.
What do you want?

A stove would be nice.  Perhaps a washing machine, she
says, laughing.
Really?

The women spend half of the day washing clothes.  There
is no time for their own self development.  There is not time
to help their children with homework.  We are so busy
cleaning.
I see.

 

Booked – Mock Newbery 2017

Booked

Reading a novel in verse is a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month.  Though I don’t need a reason to read novels in verse.  I love them.  Oftentimes, it’s a love or hate relationship people have for these poetic novels.  Booked by Kwame Alexander will be a love for everyone… adults, girls and most importantly adolescent males.  The online catalog describes Booked as “Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books; but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.”

Reading this novel is like going down a rabbit hole.  You find yourself learning new words that you want to memorize and bring out in conversation:  yobbery, limerance, onomatophobia, sweven and irascent.  Then, there are the book recommendations provided in the poems:  Out of the DustLocomotion, Peace, Locomotion and All the Broken Pieces.  As a lover, of novels in verse I was surprised I haven’t read All the Broken Pieces.  Then, I saw the publication date. . . 2009.  ML was three.  I wasn’t reading many books over the standard 32 pages picture books at that time.

I’m off to read All the Broken Pieces; but first let me assure you Booked is on my Mock Newbery 2017.  Alexander’s The Crossover won the Newbery in 2015.  Booked is just as worthy of a medal.  These books need a jazzier genre name.  Novel in Verse doesn’t cut it.  Rapping Read is a better term!