Margin Notes

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Aug
22

After reading Kwame Alexander’s award-winning novel, The Crossover, students invariably ask the same question, “Do you have any other books like this one?” and with the release of Rebound comes a book that will thrill these readers.

Set in 1988, Rebound is the prequel to The Crossover and tells the story of Chuck “Da Man” Bell’s summer when he is 12 years old and struggling to live with grief after his father’s sudden death; the summer he is sent to live with his grandparents; when he faces the consequences of bad decisions; discovers his passion and talent for basketball; and, supported by his family, is finally able to “find his smile.”

Rebound is written in verse that mirrors that of The Crossover, and with the author’s command of this form, and his creative and precise use of space and placement, readers experience the full power and intensity of a single word or line as they journey through the story (insert photo). The addition of graphic pages illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile serve to further captivate the reader and reveal the dreams that Chuck is too fearful to share with even those closest to him.

Fans of Kwame Alexander will be delighted to be reunited with characters from The Crossover, and the new characters introduced are just as spirited, loving, and funny as we have come to expect. But you certainly do not need to have read The Crossover to read Rebound; this book as a stand-alone is just as powerful.

I would recommend this book as an addition to both middle and high school classroom libraries…with one warning. Start thinking about what you are going to suggest to students as their next read because we all know what question they will ask when they finish.

Guest Writer Gabi Sant’Anna Recommends A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

Jul
24

Told from the perspective of Matt Wainwright, an endearing 15-year-old basketball fanatic, this novel is both lighthearted and heartbreaking. Through a series of funny, relatable stories, Matt recounts the shift in his relationship with his next-door neighbour Tabby, from childhood best friend to a hopeful love interest.

He tells stories of playing with Tabby as young kids, sorting their Halloween candy into specific categories, riding the school bus together since elementary school, starting high school, and many other moments that made him realize he had fallen in love with her. For Matt, no memory is more devastating than the one when he saw a black car parked in front of Tabby’s house belonging to the school’s “it” guy, telling him someone else had figured out how amazing she was, too.

For a large part of the book, Matt’s narration captivates the reader and has them rooting for him to reveal his true feelings and hoping for the couple to live happily ever after. But that’s not always how life works. Just when you think you know what will happen, a shocking tragedy strikes that leaves Matt on a downward spiral, and the reader in a fit of rage.

This novel is a beautiful depiction of a likeable character doing his best to deal with the hardships life throws at him. There is no correct way to grieve but Matt’s journey is a great example for students to reflect upon, and potentially relate to. I believe anyone who picks up this book will be able to take something from it.

Guest Bio:

My name is Gabi Sant’Anna and I’m a first year English teacher at McAdam High School. I’ve always considered myself a reader but teaching English this year has taken my love of reading to the next level! My students know I’m always up for talking about a good book.