SHORT TAKES by Jr. Smith


Fast-Break Basketball Poetry
Age Range: 10 & up
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Smallish photos in a flashy design accompany quick takes on basketball in poetic form. The idea seems to be that basketball is made of speed and flash and that a longer more reflective stance similar to the earlier Rimshots (1999) by this same author can be eschewed without loss. Unfortunately, the layout, using snapshot-like, often murky photos becomes so staccato it occasionally resembles static, and so freeform it is hard to read. The relatively simpler presentations of the three haiku that are included provide welcome respite from the jazzy, ragged look of the longer poems. Most successful are the poems based on rap and the jive talk in “Trash on the Court.” However, for hoop fans, Smith’s poetry has more authenticity and authority than other recent basketball collections. Knowledge of the game is assumed, but the glossary at the end provides support for literary novices. Basketball lovers may appreciate the quick takes of the photos and the poetry and find it reflective of the sudden bursts of talent and skill in a good game. Missing in the poetry, though, is the solid grinding work required before success, giving this the flimsy, glossy feel of an advertisement. Full of brag and swagger attitude, Smith attempts to capture the hype of a street game in a book that almost makes a slam dunk, but bounces off. No swish. (Poetry. 10+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46454-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2000


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