Bowen, Fred. Hardcourt: Stories from 75 Years of the National Basketball Association. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2022. 978-1-534-46043-0. 99 p. $19.99. Grades 3+.
Sports writer and popular middle grade author Fred Bowen teams up with illustrator James E. Ransome to present a lush walk through hoops history. Young basketball fans who view Michael Jordan as ancient will enthusiastically expand their knowledge of the sport. Working with 75 years of history, Bowen does a respectable job of selecting individuals, teams, and events to highlight, beginning with a well crafted summary of the game’s creation. Readers will ooh and aah over nuggets of information from the early days of the sport, from players hitchhiking to games, to the development of the 24-second clock in an effort to resuscitate the league. Along the way, the book, divided into four quarters comprised of short, easily digestible chapters, features numerous luminaries, the names fans should know. Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Dr. J to name just a few, as well as less known but equally important players. But the book does not just dwell in the past; current players such as Stephen Curry are included as well. The picture book sized volume concludes with four pages of league statistics, as well as a comprehensive index. Complementing Bowen’s easy to read prose is Ransome’s artwork. An unusual approach for a sports book, the illustrations leap off the page, conveying the action and excitement of the event, as well as the power and athleticism of the players. The only downside to this approach is the complete lack of captioning, unfortunately leaving readers in the dark as to the identity of the individuals pictured. This is a delightful volume to skim, skip, and browse as well as read cover to cover.
THOUGHTS: The subject and the writing both should attract middle grade and older readers, but the size of the book may make it a less practical option for older students.
Doeden, Matt. Spectacular Sports. Millbrook Press, 2021. $25.99 each. $208.32 Set of 9. 64 p. Grades 5-8.
Coming Up Clutch: The Greatest Upsets, Comebacks and Finishes in Sports History. 978-1-512-42756-1. It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run. 978-1-728-41716-5. The College Football Championship: The Fight for the Top Spot. 978-1-467-71897-4. The Final Four: The Pursuit of College Basketball Glory. 978-1-467-78780-2. The NBA Playoffs: In Pursuit of Basketball Glory. 978-1-541-54153-5. The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes. 978-1-512-42753-0. The Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Quest for Hockey’s Biggest Prize. 978-1-541-57838-8. The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Immortality. 978-1-512-42754-7. The World Cup: Soccer’s Global Championship. 978-1-512-42755-4.
This reviewer read It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run in the Spectacular Sports series. This series offers meticulously-researched, well-written information, tons of sports statistics, and interesting full-color illustrations about high-interest sports topics that middle-level readers will be excited to learn more about. Each book in the series addresses a different major event in sports or sports history. The books include short chapters with catchy titles, captioned photos and diagrams, a glossary, and an index.
THOUGHTS: This series contains worthwhile additions for any upper elementary or middle level library that needs to add colorfully-illustrated, high-interest books about popular sports topics to its collection. (Title Reviewed: It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run.)