Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game

John Coy, illus. by Randy DuBurke. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-2604-7
In an account brimming with suspense and emotional tension, Coy (Hoop Genius) and DuBurke (Best Shot in the West) show how a game of college-level basketball one Sunday morning in 1944 helped provide a glimpse of the future of the game and of a segregated nation. The man behind the game was John McLendon, coach of the North Carolina College of Negroes’ Eagles, who masterminded the clandestine meet-up between his team and the all-white squad from Duke University Medical School, at a time when segregation laws prohibited play between black and white teams. Initial uneasiness—the athletes, “some of whom had never been this close to a person of a different color, were hesitant to touch or bump into one another”—gave way to a game in which the Eagles trounced Duke using a hard-driving fast-break style; a follow-up match saw the teams blending their ranks. DuBurke’s shadowy images in pencil and paint have the feeling of long-buried photos snapped in secret, while Coy skillfully highlights both the energy and importance of the game and the dangerous social climate in which it was played. Ages 7–11. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/17/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Genre: Children's
Show other formats
Discover what to read next