Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Hoop Genius

Author:  John Coy
Illustrator: Joe Morse
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books/Lerner (March 1, 2013)
Source: Netgalley - Digital Review Copy
Audience: Grades 1 to 4
Basketball * History * Sports

Description from GoodReads:
Taking over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation is not something James Naismith wants to do at all. The last two teachers of this class quit in frustration. The students--a bunch of energetic young men--are bored with all the regular games and activities. Naismith needs something new, exciting, and fast to keep the class happy...or someone's going to get hurt. His only resources are a gymnasium, a couple peach baskets, some soccer balls, and his imagination. Saving this class is going to take a genius. Discover the true story of how Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

My thoughts on the book:
I will admit that basketball is probably my least favorite sport.  Really, you have a bunch of players who run down a court and toss a ball into a hoop and then turn around and repeat in the opposite direction.  Yes, I have completely over simplified the game. *sigh

However, the 1890's is an interesting time period and well, the history of how basketball began is far more exciting to me.   Plus the cover of Coy's book Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball is eye-catching.  If you are looking for a picture book history of the sport of basketball, then you may be disappointed.  Coy's focus is truly on James Naismith and how his need to discover a game to keep a rowdy group of young men busy resulted in the game of basketball.  The book briefly touches upon how the game spread including when women began playing and when basketball became an official Olympic sport in 1936.  (For fans of the TV series Murdoch Mysteries which is set in 1890's Toronto, there is an episode where women are playing basketball and using a wooden basket for the hoop. I loved that little detail.)

The end of the book includes an author's note, a selected bibliography, and the "original" two-pages of rules created by Naismith.  Joe Morse created the illustrations with an old-time feel.  Each picture appear to be sepia-washed which mutes the bold blues, greens, and burgundy colors.  Fans of the sport of basketball who might want a book that features key players or the great highlights of game may not find this the book for them.  However, if you are interested in history and how basketball began, then this is definitely a book to add to your collection. 

Check out this video about James Naismith Founding Rules of Basketball:

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:


  1. We reviewed the same book today AND found the same video! :-)

    1. Isn't it a great video? I looked at several and really liked this one.

  2. You know what! I'm not a huge fan of basketball but my husband totally is. I kind of feel the same way, it really comes down to just watching the end usually. I actually want to read this though because my grandmother played basketball when she was young. She used to tell us how they would play only offense and then only defense. They were constantly subbing in and out like football. Anyway, this actually peaks my interest!

    1. I know there are tons of basketball fans but it really is just meh to me. Though I have seen a few women's basketball games and I think it is cool just to hear about your grandmother though.