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Friday, June 15, 2018

Rebound, by Kwame Alexander. Houghton MIfflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2018. $22.99 ages 10 and up

"How was your time with Granddaddy?

It wasn't that bad.
You've sent me to a child labor camp.

At least the food'll be good,
she says, smiling.
Why does he have to call me Chuck?
That's not my name."

Kwame Alexander continues to amaze! I have read each of his published books: in each case, more than once. It is not something I do often. I have such respect for his talent, his love of poetry, and the care he gives to the stories he tells.

Rebound is a prequel to his Newbery Award winner, The Crossover. The beauty of it is that you need not have read the first one before reading this marvelous book. It stands on its own and may just be the impetus you need to take a close look at the totality of his work. It will not disappoint, and you are sure to be inspired to talk about it with others, and to share it with your favorite middle grade readers.

When Charlie Bell's father dies, his world is turned upside down. She wants to talk, he does not. He is angry, and hurting. He and his mother have difficulty communicating, allowing Charlie to dodge any conversations that remind him of his dad.


We sit
inches from each other
at the breakfast table
but it feels like
we're in different countries
our treaty disappearing
with each forkful
of grits,
our distance
growing further
and further
with each

The clink of the knife
slicing bread
and meat
is the only sound
between us.
I want to say something
but the words
get in the way."

When Charlie steals bottles from a neighbor and spends the money on snacks, his mother has had enough. She makes the decision that he will spend his summer with his father's parents. To say Charlie is reluctant is an understatement. It matters not to his mother. Her plan is made. As he spends time with his grandparents he learns more about his father, and meets his cousin Roxie, a star basketball player. She convinces him to try his hand at the game his father loved to play. The healing begins ...


Today she shoots
and I practice
the ones she misses,

which aren't many.

Then I practice shooting
jump shots
from the corner
and she rebounds
the ones I miss,

which are plenty."

Charlie is a boy to admire; his first person narrative is emotional and honest. Family, friends and a growing skill at the game his father loved to play help him begin to heal his heavy heart. As is the case in each of his books, Kwame Alexander's rich and brilliant way with words totally capture the aching sadness, the adolescent dialogue, the excitement of the game of basketball, and the conflict that is inherent in a family reeling from a devastating loss.

For Charlie, the summer provides the chance he needs to 'rebound'.

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