cover image Rookie: A First Year in the WNBA

Rookie: A First Year in the WNBA

Joan Anderson. Dutton Children's Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46412-9

This winning collaboration between Anderson (Batboy: An Inside Look at Spring Training) and New York Times photographer Agins creates a lucid portrait of Tamika Whitmore, the 6'2"" basketball center who distinguished herself as a rookie during the New York Liberty's 1999 season. Beginning the volume just prior to a game that will determine whether or not the Liberty will go on to the WNBA playoffs, Anderson then flashes back to Whitmore's childhood in Tupelo, Mo. The talented player became determined to learn basketball at the relatively late age of 13, when she discovered that another girl in her hometown had earned a college scholarship by playing ball. Whitmore's frequent quotes make her upbeat voice and personality a core part of the narrative. She candidly discusses her adjustment to city life and a demanding schedule (""I hate flying. I figure if we were meant to fly, God would have given us wings"") and effectively conveys the close bond she has with her mother and her teammates, especially mentor Teresa Weatherspoon (who contributes a foreword to the book). Ball players will also appreciate a generous sprinkling of insights into Whitmore's practice routine. The biography ends with a fast-paced, fluid account of the Liberty's eventual victory in the game that opens the volume. Agins balances on-court shots with a selection of informal, behind-the-scene photos of Whitmore and her colleagues. An inspirational story. Ages 9-13. (June)