Great Illustrated Books

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

By John Coy, illustrated by Joe Morse

Lerner Publishing Group, 2013
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9780761366171

In 1891, a teacher walked into a rowdy gymnasium discouraged, anxious and frustrated. Two previous teachers had resigned, and James Naismith knew he had to find an innovative approach to working with the restless adolescents who filled the gym or else fail himself. He tried several approaches, but each was a disappointment; each endeavor a struggle until finally a memory of a childhood game and two peach baskets managed to get Naismith's creative juices flowing and helped him develop the idea that permanently changed the list of America's most desired pastimes. After trial and error and many refinements, his ingenuity paid off: the game of basketball was born.

Exceptionally illustrated with sharp lines, outsized figures and a unique color palette of grays and bold colors, illustrator Joe Morse truly captures the era of the story, along with the excitement of the game and mood of the players. We watch Naismith's class develop the game as they play it – creating the moves and techniques that continue to define the sport today. The drawings subtly convey history through the characters' clothing and hairstyles popular in the late nineteenth century with a stark contrast to the sports attire of contemporary basketball teams portrayed on the concluding pages of the book.

Coy's historical account of the invention of basketball will appeal to both boys and girls. When a group of female teachers approached Naismith interested in playing basketball, he not only organized the games but also refereed himself. Unexpectedly, he met his future wife on the basketball court of one of these games.

Today, basketball hoops fill the parks of America's cities and the driveways of America's suburbs. Naismith didn't realize his invention would become a consuming passion for the world of sports; a game watched and played by millions of young kids and adults.

Reviewed by : MJI


If you love this book, then try:

Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. Knopf, 2008.

Tavares, Matt. Henry Aaron's Dream. Candlewick, 2010.

Thayer, Ernest L. Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888. Chronicle Books, 2000.

Critics have said

Coy's story about the dawn of basketball in 1891��_offers an interesting account of the factors that went into devising the game.
The New York Times Book Review