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.

For Every One: A poem. A nod. A Nothing to Lose. by Jason Reynolds

Apr
30

Jason Reynolds has written the anthem for all dreamers. But although he is a dreamer, he doesn’t claim to know how to make them happen. In fact, he starts out stating just that. Reynolds thought he would have made it by 16. At 18 he thought he would have made it by 25. And now he says he is making it up as he goes.

What he does know is how it feels to be a dreamer. He knows the battle of two voices, the one telling you to give up and the one that demands you keep going. He knows the fear, the doubt, the struggle.

Written for “the courageous” Reynolds explains dreams come in all forms, can be realized at any age, and “…don’t have timelines, deadlines, and aren’t always in straight lines. But the dream? The dream is what makes the dreamer special.”

The title of this book is For Everyone, and it indeed is for anyone. Anyone who has had a dream. Anyone who has doubted it. And definitely for every kid. This is why this book is a must for the classroom library or a class read aloud. I can’t imagine a better way to inspire both the dreamers in our classrooms and those who don’t even know dreams are possible than to put this book in their hands.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Jan
26

If you haven’t read anything by Jason Reynolds yet, you need to simply because he is an amazing writer. A great place to start is with Long Way Down, his newest book.

In Long Way Down, we meet Will, a 15 year old whose brother, Shawn, was just murdered on the street.  Will has been raised to believe in 3 rules: no crying, no snitching and getting revenge.  He tucks a gun into his pants and steps into an elevator to go and find Shawn’s killer.  During the ride down, where the majority of the book takes place, Will “meets” people from his past and must decide whether to avenge his brother’s death or break the rules he has been taught to respect.

The entire book is written in verse and Reynold’s sentences are powerful and direct.  Because of this, this book is accessible to so many readers, including reluctant ones.  (more…)