As I sat in the front row keeping an eye on my students, the stage curtain opened to our elementary school assembly. A sign over the group declared, “The Rubber Band.”
With one stroke, the lead guitar caused my inner groupie to emerge. I screamed in delight and crooned out, “Born to Be Wild,” along with the kid band delivering professional sounds. Our usually reserved staff soon joined me in my whoops of delight and the band had the entire assembly on its feet, dancing and clapping.
I was so impressed by this rock-and-roll group of fourth and fifth grade students that I asked them to play at my fiftieth birthday party.
Returning to our classroom, I put on my writer’s hat, thinking about what a cool kid’s book The Rubber Band would make. But I had to come up with a plotline. It was then I noticed a rubber band on the floor and knew instantly what needed to be done.
My book had to be about a good guitar-playing kid getting trouble for a mis-shot rubber band. He’s sent to the principal’s office, where he sees the sign advertising the talent contest and he begins his quest to recruit a diverse group of misfit kids to form a garage band.
Characters inspired by real people
My imagination took off as I thought about the many children I have taught through the years. Most of my characters are inspired by those actual students and events.
Rocky is a fictional name given to a real foster kid who came to our school temporarily. He used to walk alone around the perimeter of the school boundaries – just like Rocky.
Edison and Oliver are actual names of maternal twins I taught my first year at Kenwood Elementary, the school I derived Wildwood elementary from. Even Principal Haymaker is based on my friend, Principal Bales.
The band is not without troubles and Eddie soon finds himself challenged by an incurable illness. But the bond of the band is strong, and they will not snap but hang tight to see the dream through, no matter how it turns out.
Rocky longs to be a part of a permanent family, but has his heartstrings pulled when his freshly paroled birth father shows up.
Becca is the lonely, spoiled-rotten rich girl with no friends but a voice of gold.
Manny plays bass and Oliver, the keyboards, but not without adding their own unique personalities to the mix.
You’ll be hearing more from The Rubber Band, as I plan to write about their adventures into adulthood and beyond…and there will be many adventures.
I no longer look at a rubber band and think of it as just an elastic ring to hold things together. It’s a simple, useful object that inspired a novel series.