Book Blog: Hoop Genius
What would the Philippines be without basketball? While it’s not the official national sport, it is played EVERYWHERE! It’s rare to drive through the city and pass a tin-roofed basketball pavilion and not hear the sounds of feet running down a concrete court, isn’t it? Flip through the channels on Philippine TV and you’ll eventually come across a PBA or college basketball game. You can be driving on the national highway in the province and have to come to a stop to wait for the men playing a pick-up game in the road to realize that a car is coming towards them. And, even as you head down Penny Lane when you leave school, you pass a dirt basketball court that’s often filled with kids lobbing the ball towards the netless hoops. The last page of John Coy’s book titled Hoop Genius reads, “And today, millions of people around the world play the game that was invented by James Naismith and that rowdy class. Do you?”
There’s no doubt that James Naismith had his work cut out for him on that fateful day in December 1891 when he walked into the gym that two previous teachers had marched out of. He was met by a group of bored and rowdy boys. He realized that he had to do something to keep them engaged and to keep them from hurting each other! Football was out. Soccer was out. Lacrosse was out. He needed something new! Just 4 days before Christmas, he had it! He came into the class a posted rules for new game with a ball, with goals mounted on the walls, and with penalties for “holding, pushing, and tripping.” And thus, the international phenomenon, known as the game of basketball, began.
Joe Morse’s illustrations pair well with the story that John Coy writes. His stylized drawings reflect the historical time period in artistic style as well as the movement of the rowdy action of the group of boys. He also manages to distinguish an even earlier time period with James Naismith’s flashback to his own boyhood and then finishes with a still-stylized but more modern rendition of the game of basketball today.
Title: Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball
Author: John Coy
Illustrator: Joe Morse
Reading Range: Ages 7-11
Curriculum Connection: This picturebook has multiple curricular connections: a fun read-aloud for any of our PE teachers as they start a unit on basketball, an example of an invented game for our HS PE 1 students who have a final project option of inventing their own game, a read-aloud with our Grade 1 students who study inventors, a biography for multiple grade levels, and as an analysis piece for our art students looking at the highly stylized illustrations.
Coy, John. “Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball.” John Coy. Winding Oak, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2013.