cover image The Basket Counts

The Basket Counts

Arnold Adoff. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17 (47pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80108-2

There is a studied pomp to both art and text in this collection of poems about basketball. Weaver's debut artwork is sometimes visually interesting, as when high-rise buildings menacingly dwarf the city playground chain-link fence, or when a wheelchair-bound player pops ""the s h a r p e s t wheelchair/ wheeeelies."" His full-page paintings feature careening angles, skewed perspectives, a multicultural cast of characters and hip teens. Often, however, Weaver's attempt to convey symbolic action is cartoon-like: literal flames surround players who are in the zone as the text announces, ""Me/ hot./ You/ burn."" Abstract curlicues swirl around the ball, net and players to suggest movement. While Adoff's ""shaped speech"" (made manifest in unorthodox letter spacing) is authoritative, it tends to call attention to itself rather than amplify the substance of the poems. Despite its striking cover of a basketball with a Seurat-like pebbled surface and shiny black lines, this self-conscious book about shooting hoops misses the mark. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)