HOOP GENIUS

HOW A DESPERATE TEACHER AND A ROWDY GYM CLASS INVENTED BASKETBALL

Given its limited scope, both hoops fans—who will be familiar with this story from rule and sports-history books—and newbies...

This picture-book basketball history spotlights how James Naismith came to invent the game now played around the world.

Stylized illustrations in tones resembling tinted sepia prints depict riotous students playing indoor sports, accumulating more injuries with each page turn. The text asserts that they “had already forced two teachers to quit. / [Naismith] didn’t want to, but nobody else would teach that class,” setting the scene for Naismith’s realization, seemingly self-prompted, that a new game with less physical contact was needed. Memories of childhood games lead to his eureka moment. However, with so little context provided, readers may question where this class was being held, why the “boys” look like men the same age as Naismith and how Naismith came to work with them. The original rules of “Basket Ball” are printed on the end pages, and the players’ enthusiasm for the game is evident, but details such as court dimensions and where baskets were hung are not included. Perhaps in a nod to Title IX, youngsters learn that Naismith taught the game to a group of women, and the book ends with a note about the game’s inclusion in the 1936 Olympics.

Given its limited scope, both hoops fans—who will be familiar with this story from rule and sports-history books—and newbies may feel this book has left them circling the rim. (author’s note; selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6617-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

THE SECRET SUBWAY

Absolutely wonderful in every way.

A long-forgotten chapter in New York City history is brilliantly illuminated.

In mid-19th-century New York, horses and horse-drawn vehicles were the only means of transportation, and the din created by wheels as they rumbled on the cobblestones was deafening. The congestion at intersections threatened the lives of drivers and pedestrians alike. Many solutions were bandied about, but nothing was ever done. Enter Alfred Ely Beach, an admirer of “newfangled notions.” Working in secret, he created an underground train powered by an enormous fan in a pneumatic tube. He built a tunnel lined with brick and concrete and a sumptuously decorated waiting room for passenger comfort. It brought a curious public rushing to use it and became a great though short-lived success, ending when the corrupt politician Boss Tweed used his influence to kill the whole project. Here is science, history, suspense, secrecy, and skulduggery in action. Corey’s narrative is brisk, chatty, and highly descriptive, vividly presenting all the salient facts and making the events accessible and fascinating to modern readers. The incredibly inventive multimedia illustrations match the text perfectly and add detail, dimension, and pizazz. Located on the inside of the book jacket is a step-by-step guide to the creative process behind these remarkable illustrations.

Absolutely wonderful in every way. (author’s note, bibliography, Web resources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-375-87071-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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