Basketball fans from middle grade on up will be enthralled with stories as to how the NBA developed into one of the best professional sports organizations. Prolific sportswriter Fred Bowen, who has written more than 25 titles for MG audiences, begins the journey with THE TIP-OFF, a chapter on the rough beginnings for the league right after World War II.
From there, the technique of naming each section like the progression of a game continues with FIRST QUARTER and ends with AT THE BUZZER. It’s a creative way to present the content. I’ve been a basketball fan since I was a kid and was amazed at what I didn’t know.
Topics like how the 24-second clock and 3-point line got its start, along with a look at The Harlem Globetrotters who helped pave the path of desegregation for the league. Not left out are the iconic players from the 1940s likedominant center, George Mikan, the Olympic Dream team of 1992, and current names like Steph Curry. James Harden, and LeBron James.
I thoroughly enjoyed the description of how the Ice Capades ended up helping the league evolve and Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point record one-game scoring feat. A full chapter on Bird and Magic (Larry Bird and Magic Johnson) also revealed the history of these players.
There are no photographs, but that’s okay because bold full-page illustrations are spread throughout. They are beautiful to look at and team up with the text to make HARDCOURT a winning non-fiction selection.
Fred Bowen below tells about the importance of losing in sports:
About the Author and Illustrator
Fred Bowen is the author of Gridiron and more than twenty additional children’s books about sports, and for the past twenty years has written the weekly KidsPost column in The Washington Post. Fred lives in Maryland with his family. Visit him at FredBowen.com.
James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for The Bell Rang, which he also authored, received the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. His other award-winning titles include the Coretta Scott King winner The Creation; Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop; Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt; Before She Was Harriet, and Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award. He frequently collaborates with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. One of their recent titles is Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, which received four starred reviews and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book. He lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley region with his family. Visit James at JamesRansome.com.