Hoop Genius, by John Coy (book review) – basketball invented, injuries prevented

book cover of Hoop Genius by John Coy illustrated by John Morse published by Carolrhoda BooksBig kids, small gym.
Lots of energy, lots of injuries.
Time for a new game!

Picture books aren’t just for the toddler set anymore! This E for Everyone book chronicles the invention of Basket Ball by teacher James Naismith over 120 years ago, trying to keep gangly, over-energetic teen boys from turning their indoor winter PE class into a free-for-all.

The illustrations by Canadian Joe Morse are as jostling and boards-thumping as any modern-day photo of NBA playoff action. You’ve seen his artwork anchoring sports writing and advertisements, as well as recent sports picture books, like  Stephen Krenksy’s 2011 hit Play Ball, Jackie.

Children’s Book Week gives all of us a reason to share our favorites, old and new, as we fan the spark of child-like wonder in each of us.

What other children’s books about sports would you recommend?

Book info: Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball / John Coy; illustrated by Joe Morse. Carolrhoda Books, 2013. [author site]  [artist site]   [publisher site]

My book talk:  Indoor gym class, big guys getting bored, their new teacher reluctantly faces them with one last game to try – a new game that takes skill instead of hitting, a game with a ball and a basket.

Yes, basketball was invented in late 1891 by James Naismith in desperation, an indoor variation of the Duck on a Rock game he enjoyed growing up in Canada. His class threw a soccer ball into wooden peach baskets for goals, since no boxes available for the first game.

His young men took the game from Springfield, Massachusetts to their hometowns and beyond. Women began playing basketball in 1892, and Naismith met his future wife while refereeing a local women’s game.

Morse’s illustrations vividly show Naismith’s young men who longed to be moving and competing, all big feet and big hands, as well as their teacher’s many attempts to find them an active indoor sport that wouldn’t injure too many!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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