BASKETBALLOGY

SUPERCOOL FACTS YOU NEVER KNEW

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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A football fan’s treasure trove of magic seasons and moments.

THE GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAMS OF ALL TIME

Storied football teams are ranked and compared.

After an introduction that establishes the subjectivity of any sort of greatest rankings (“Because the only thing better than watching football is arguing about it afterward”) and defines the familiar-to-sports-fans acronym G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), this book sets out to build cases for which teams (and players) were the best. An unsurprisingly NFL–heavy book, the first chapter covers 20 top NFL teams season by season; this makes up roughly the first half of the book. The selected seasons range from 1940 (the Bears) to 2016 (the Patriots), with some franchises appearing more than once. Alongside narrative highlights of the team’s season, each set of two spreads includes sidebars covering impressive team statistics and interesting anecdotes (such as the first player to dump Gatorade on a coach, strange sports superstitions, and a prank involving an alligator in a shower). The second chapter breaks from the team focus to select individual NFL players at each position, and the third chapter branches out to single-season college teams (limited to 10, which is sure to disappoint readers from unrepresented college football towns). Then the book returns to the NFL with blurbs about the best year for each franchise, takes a break to highlight a single team from a handful of other leagues (including Canadian and a women’s league), before returning to the NFL for a collection of top-10 lists by team stats.

A football fan’s treasure trove of magic seasons and moments. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68330-072-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Sports Illustrated Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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

UGLY

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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