As I continue to work my way through the ALSC Notable Book Nominee list, I can report that I have now read 6 of the fiction titles, and all of the picture book titles. There have been a lot of good books that will be making their way into the Bailey library come August, and there was at least one of the fiction titles I didn't finish because I knew it wouldn't be making it's way into the Bailey library come August. Sometimes when I get 50 pages or so into a fiction title and it's clear that it's not written for an elementary audience I abandon it so I can move on to something that might be a future purchase. I know I miss out on a lot of great YA stuff, but I have to be efficient with my time.
I hadn't read any of the informational picture books, so I was excited to see this list. As we all know, non-fiction reading will be our big push. The first title on the list, Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy really caught my attention. I'm a huge college basketball fan so I was eager to read the history of the game. I liked the simplicity of this book. The author does an outstanding job of cutting the story to just the facts. Told in short paragraphs on each page, the reader, and I think this book will be accessible to a wide age range, gets the story behind the only true American game. The story begins with James Naismith taking over a job that had been held by two PE teachers before him, but they just couldn't control the class. He had to find something similar to football, that wasn't as rough and could be played indoors. The author takes us through his trial and error period explaining quickly and in just enough words why each didn't work. Finally, we are walked through the thought process used by Naismith and the end product is basketball.
The illustrations by Joe Morse are amazing. The colors and techniques reflect the time of the invention of basketball and the subject of the pictures enhance and further the story. It is because of the pictures that the author was able to use a minimum of words to tell the story.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is how it shows the changes in the game. The original rules of basketball are published on the cover pages and I think kids familiar with the game will be interested to see how simple the game's rules were compared to what we watch today. The book will make a wonderful classroom addition to talk about change over time and make comparison charts.
I like this book a lot and it's on my list of Caldecott hopefuls.