|Alexander greets a fan at the library|
“I am so excited and elated,” said Sandra Pierce, head of Youth Services for the library. “We are so blessed to have an author of his caliber visiting our library and our schools.”
Alexander, whose novel-in-verse “The Crossover” was named a Newbery winner Monday, will visit with Hiland Park Elementary School third-graders and Bay High School freshmen Thursday morning. That afternoon, he will address a group of students from the After-School Assistance Program and Girls Inc.
“Generally I like to inspire kids to read and write,” Alexander said by phone Tuesday. “I use poetry to do that. We are immersed in poetry, and often kids will leave saying, ‘I had no idea this was poetry.’ ”
|Kathie Bennett & Marjory Wentworth|
“This is an excellent opportunity to see a children’s author in our community share his knowledge and some poetry,” Pierce said. She also called “The Crossover” a powerful book. “It reads with such rhythm. It’s about the family life and relationships of two teenage boys, it’s about character building.”
In the book, 12-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the “moving and grooving/popping and rocking” of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B.
“I wanted to write a book boys would pick up,” Alexander said, noting evidence boys are hesitant to spend time reading rather than in physical activities. “They want books that are exciting to them, so I framed it in things boys are interested in. It’s about friendship, family and love, couched in terms of basketball.”
|Pierce speaks to BHS band|
|Alexander addresses the audience at the library.|
“I just finished a novel about a boy who loves soccer but hates books,” he said of his next project. “It’s inspired by boys I met on this book tour. I wanted to explore that transformation.”
Alexander is the author of 18 books, including “The Crossover,” which received its honor from the American Library Association on Monday. It also was chosen as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and was called “a beautifully measured novel” by The New York Times.
The Newbery Medal was named for the 18th-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Alexander’s visit is part of the library’s annual BooksAlive festival, which brings nationally-known authors to Panama City for free workshops and speaking sessions. The main event will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Florida State University Panama City. For details, visit BooksAlive.net.