“Supercool” indeed.




A collection of basketball facts that extend knowledge of the game rather than simply pepper it with curios.

Sylvester has gathered here a healthy variety of basketball information that helps set the sport in evolutionary and socio-economic contexts. It starts, of course, with James Naismith, a peach basket, and a bunch of bored boys. And certainly the inclusion of some oddballogy keeps readers entertained: “The backboard appeared in 1895 to stop spectators from reaching for the ball.” A two-page spread on hair is also worthy of extended examination, with the likes of Dr. J, James Harden, Metta World Peace, Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, and, never to be forgotten, Dennis Rodman—all represented only by hair placed over negative space. There are nods to the WNBA and the importance of Title IX, but what gives the book its real oomph is introducing questions of race, sexual orientation, global reach, the wheelchair game, and economic accessibility in the form of street games. A fascinating chronology of African-American involvement in basketball is scattered throughout the pages, and there’s a clear sense of the game’s salary caps and loopholes as well as some good, sly pokes at the cheats: “Harvard’s team was suspended from games in 1999 when it was discovered that some of its players were paying other students to do their homework. Seems they didn’t learn their lesson: it happened again 12 years later!”

“Supercool” indeed. (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-932-3

Page Count: 92

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).


A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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