Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

John Coy, Author, Joe Morse, Illustrator
John Coy, illus. by Joe Morse. Carolrhoda, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6617-1
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Open Ebook - 44 pages - 978-1-283-93834-1
Hardcover - 44 pages - 978-0-7613-8723-7
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Coy (the 4 for 4 series) tells the story of basketball’s founding in 1891 directly and succinctly. Young teacher James Naismith takes over a gym class of unruly young men. When other organized games produce walking wounded, “Naismith felt like giving up but couldn’t. The boys in the class reminded him of how he’d been at their age—energetic, impatient, and eager for something exciting.” Thirteen rules, a ball, and two peach baskets later, he develops a new game that demands accuracy while tempering aggressiveness. The story’s dynamism comes from Morse’s (Play Ball, Jackie!) stylized prints, whose posterlike quality is amplified by the limited palette of blue, brown, and maroon. Lanky limbs stretch dramatically across the pages, a visual foil to Coy’s spare storytelling style. While it’s slightly disconcerting to have the students referred to as “boys” when they appear as mustached young adults, their grimacing, chiseled features in motion are attention- grabbing. This lively glimpse into the beginnings of a hugely popular sport concludes with a short author’s note and bibliography. Ages 7–11. Author’s agent: Transatlantic Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Heflin Reps. (Mar.)
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