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WHO GOT GAME? by Derrick Barnes


Basketball: Amazing but True Stories!

From the Who Got Game? series

by Derrick Barnes ; illustrated by Jez Tuya

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2024
ISBN: 9781523505548
Publisher: Workman

Two-time Kirkus Prize winner Barnes highlights some potentially unfamiliar records and achievements on the court.

The author positively pours out facts and anecdotes about lesser known, or at least less celebrated, “batters, buzzer-beaters, and record-breakers”—from tributes to the early barnstorming “Black Fives” and Wataru “Wat” Misaka, the NBA’s first non-white player, to accounts of Scott Skiles’ 30 assists in 1990 and Bernard King, who came back to finish a Hall of Fame career after shattering a knee. Despite noting that basketball is enjoyed across the world, “from Boston to Barcelona to Beijing,” he seldom glances overseas, and notwithstanding a nod to Title IX, the scattered accounts of the feats of women high school, collegiate, or WNBA players and teams definitely don’t get equal time. Still, with contagious enthusiasm, he invites readers to marvel at trick dunks and full-court shots of the past, weird games such as the NCAA contest that ended up 258-141, and other wonders—not to mention the careers of players, coaches, and even announcers and executives from the usual marquee names to coach Pat Summitt (1,098 wins), A.C. Green (1,192 consecutive games), and 5’3” pro Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues. Even non-fans will enjoy the breathless tales of miracle comebacks Barnes dishes out on his way to a closing pep talk. The mostly brown-skinned cartoon figures in Tuya’s action scenes properly underscore the narrative tone by sporting fierce game faces or appropriately amazed expressions.

Fast-break fun for both students and non-students of the game.

(glossary, web sites) (Nonfiction. 10-13)