Tag Archives: basketball

Becoming Kareem by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. November 21, 2017. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 304 p. ISBN: 9780316555388.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3.

The first memoir for young readers by sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement. The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiriting journey.

Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 9-12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is nearing 70, and from that vantage, he writes, he is able to see the big picture, which is comprised of the many details, observations, and revelations that comprise this autobiography. It begins with a name. Abdul-Jabbar was born Lewis Alcindor. It wasn’t until he was a 24-year-old student of Islam that he assumed the name the world knows, which signaled who he wanted to be—and is the substance of this fine, thoughtful memoir. More than a play-by-play sports story, it’s an honest, powerful exposition of what it means to be black in white America, offering a de facto history of the civil rights movement. But it’s also a celebration of education and the teachers who helped him become Kareem; teachers like his UCLA mentor Coach John Wooden; Dr. John Henrik Clarke of the Harlem Youth Action Project, who Abdul-Jabbar says was crucial to him in “understanding my path; sports legends Wilt Chamberlain and Muhammad Ali; and others. Most of all, this is a coming-of-age story that focuses entirely on Abdul-Jabbar’s childhood and young adulthood and demonstrates how this foundation would lead to his becoming one of the most successful and famous basketball players of all time. An inspiring and very human story.

Kirkus Reviews starred (November 1, 2017)
One of the greatest basketball players of all time reminisces on the lessons that pushed him into a life of personal reinvention.In our current moment when black athletes are joining the national confrontation with the nation’s overwhelming legacy of racial injustice, few are better suited to provide context than Abdul-Jabbar. At 24, the newly minted NBA Finals MVP publicly embraced his conversion to Islam by renaming himself, choosing to become the person he wanted to be. The reactions stretched from confusion to outrage and betrayal. For this Harlem native, the influence of the massive 1960s civil rights and ’70s Black Power movements and the examples set by Dr. Martin Luther King, historian John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali had a lasting influence on the superstar and scholar. Abdul-Jabbar recalls them and more, including most significantly coach John Wooden of UCLA, where Abdul-Jabbar and the Bruins accumulated an awe-inspiring 88-2 record. Wooden’s lessons would extend well beyond the basketball court. Abdul-Jabbar lets his many other, worldly accomplishments sit in the background, choosing to focus on the long road of self-discovery, which included many blemishes, mistakes, and struggles. Wrestling with what it means to be black, determining his own responsibility and capacity to respond to injustice, and becoming the “kindest, gentlest, smartest, lovingest, version” of himself takes center stage in this retelling of the early part of his life. Like the author’s unstoppable sky hook, this timely book is a clear score. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Since retiring, he has been an actor, a basketball coach, and the author of many New York Times bestsellers. Abdul-Jabbar is also a columnist for many news outlets, such as The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, writing on a wide range of subjects including race, politics, age, and pop culture. In 2012, he was selected as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador and in 2016 Abdul-Jabbar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award which recognizes exceptional meritorious service.

He lives in Southern California.  His website is kareemabduljabbar.com

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A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck. September 26, 2017.  Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 272 p. ISBN: 9781524716080.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 900

Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 

Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.

Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.

If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.

But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse.

After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Online))
Grades 8-11. Matt and Tabby have been neighbors and best friends since they were babies. Now they are freshmen in high school, and Matt has fallen in love with Tabby. To his dismay, handsome, highly likeable senior, Branson, is falling for Tabby as well. It’s exquisitely painful for Matt to witness Tabby’s delight, but he tries to ignore his feelings and channels his frustrations into basketball. Then Matt loses Tabby forever. In this debut novel, Reck creates a realistic and moving portrait of a 14-year-old guy clobbered by a grief he cannot express. Matt is a funny, good-natured teen until the tragedy, and in the days and weeks that follow, he copes by maintaining surface-level denial while a roiling mass of anger builds within. Sympathetic adults intervene to help get Matt on track without providing pat solutions, much like the adult characters in Chris Crutcher novels.

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2017)
A young man loses the love of his life. Matt Wainwright has pined for his best friend, Tabby Laughlin, for years but has never struck up the nerve to tell her how he feels. Instead he seethes with jealousy when Tabby begins to date the big man on campus, Liam Branson. There’s friction between the two best friends for a bit, but just when things are starting to look up, tragedy strikes. The novel is startlingly similar to John Green’s Looking for Alaska, with lost loves, car crashes, and wise teachers. Even more startling is the novels’ mirrored structures: both take place over a school year and end with an essay written by the young man for a class taught by an inspiring teacher. The cherry on top of this comparable sundae is the fact that both books feature paragraphs in which the protagonist contemplates how long an instant death feels. Reck’s debut is competently written, but the ruminations don’t run as deep as Green’s. The tertiary characters don’t sparkle, spouting serviceable but unremarkable dialogue, and there’s little attempt to introduce diversity to the largely white cast. In the end, readers will have the feeling they’ve read this story before, and it was much better the first time around. (Fiction. 12-16)

About the Author

Jared Reck lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two daughters. He teaches 8th grade Language Arts, where he has been reading awesome books and writing alongside his students for the past twelve years. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is his first novel.

His website is www.jaredreckbooks.com/

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Toni by LJ Alonge

Toni by LJ Alonge. June 20, 2017. Grosset & Dunlap, 128 p. ISBN: 9780515158014.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 770.

A street-smart, action-packed basketball series with action on and off the court.

Toni isn’t Coach Wise’s favorite player on Team Blacktop. Honestly, she’s not even in his top five. And if she’s being real, her own teammates keep siding with him during practice.

But this isn’t the first time she’s been on her own, and it won’t be the last. If you can’t count on yourself, who can you count on?

Sequel to: Frank

Part of Series: Blacktop (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Underage drinking, Smoking, Criminal culture

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
The Blacktop series continues on the basketball courts of Oakland, California. Several of her friends have been featured in this series, and now it’s Toni’s turn in the spotlight. She is black and “one tough-ass chick,” but she’s lonely and troubled, and her behavior threatens the whole team. She argues with the coach and is sometimes violent and sometimes too distracted to be a reliable teammate. She is not one to be played with, but that phrase can be taken two ways: opponents are scared to mess with her, and her own teammates can’t play with her when she’s out of control. Other teams don’t want to play her team anymore. Toni’s voice in the first-person narrative comes across as feisty at first, but it turns out she’s not a reliable narrator; she is too self-centered and defensive to listen to what others tell her. Toni has always loved drawing and the art of Rivera, Basquiat, and Kahlo, and readers might predict that art will be her salvation, but her story doesn’t go that way; if there is hope for Toni, it will be on the basketball court. In each volume, Alonge has successfully created well-rounded characters who team up for a multicultural portrait of basketball culture in Oakland; this is no exception. A fine story for sports fans and anyone in the mood for a fast, character-driven read. (Fiction. 10-16)

About the Author

LJ Alonge has played pick-up basketball in Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, Kenya, South Africa and Australia. Basketball’s always helped him learn about his community, settle conflicts, and make friends from all walks of life. He’s never intimidated by the guy wearing a headband and arm sleeve; those guys usually aren’t very good. As a kid, he dreamed of dunking from the free throw line. Now, his favorite thing to do is make bank shots. Don’t forget to call “bank!”

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Point Guard by Mike Lupica

Point Guard by Mike Lupica. April 4, 2017. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 272 p. ISBN: 9781481410038.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 810.

Gus and Cassie have always been on the same team off the field, but in this third novel in New York Times bestselling author Mike Lupica’s Home Team series can they stay friends when they’re on the same court?

Everyone assumes that Gus, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, is a baseball guy. But this year Gus is even more excited about basketball than any other sport he’s ever played. He’s been practicing some new moves and lately he’s more surprised when he misses his shot than when he scores. Plus now that he’s convinced his friend Teddy to try out for the team and Jack’s shoulder is healed, it looks like Walton’s home team will be unstoppable.

But this isn’t going to be the season Gus expected, because their team is getting a new player—and she just happens to be one of his best friends. Gus knows Cassie is more than good enough to compete on the boys’ team, and besides they really do need a point guard, so why isn’t he able to shake the feeling that she belongs on their bleachers rather than their bench? And to make matters worse, with their center Steve Kerrigan constantly making comments about his Dominican heritage, and Steve’s dad voicing his views on immigration as he runs for office, Gus is starting to wonder if he really belongs in Walton after all.

Can Gus find a way to bring the home team together both on and off the court, or will all these prejudices block their shot at a winning season?

Part of Series: Home Team

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Bullying

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 5-8. Lupica trots his Home Team ensemble out onto the court for a whirl of fast-break hoops action threaded with provocative personal issues. Gus Morales is upset when his intensely competitive friend Cassie tries out for the boys’ town basketball team. To Cassie and everyone else, his disturbance reads as a case of prejudice—an accusation he stoutly denies. Cassie’s vitriolic refusal to talk things out and some of her behavior after she makes the team only solidifies Gus’ suspicion that she’s out to win at any cost rather than be the best teammate (or friend) that she can be. Is he right or just rationalizing? Is her attitude justified or just a sign of selfishness? Lupica leaves it to readers to decide (and perhaps give their own buried attitudes a fresh once-over) as he carries the Walton Warriors through a series of dramatic last-second wins and losses. A subplot featuring racially charged local and student elections that directly mirror 2016’s ugly presidential campaign will, hopefully, become less topical over time.

About the Author

Mike Lupica is the author of multiple bestselling books for young readers, including the Home Team series, QB 1HeatTravel TeamMillion-Dollar Throw, and The Underdogs. He has carved out a niche as the sporting world’s finest storyteller. Mike lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. When not writing novels, he writes for Daily News (New York) and is an award-winning sports commentator.

His website is www.mikelupicabooks.com.

Teacher Resources

Point Guard Reading Guide

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Strong Inside (Young Readers Ed.) by Andrew Maraniss

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Percy Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss. December  20, 2016. Philomel Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9780399548345.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1170.

The inspirational true story of the first African American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at an historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially-integrated state tournament.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts; Discrimination; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Interviews & Documentary

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 9))
Grades 7-10. This is the inspiring true story of Perry Wallace, a member of Vanderbilt’s basketball team and the first black basketball player to play in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) during the 1960s civil rights era. The road was far from easy: he received aggressive fouls that went unchallenged, was kicked out of a church, lost his mother to cancer, and his best friend and teammate, also black, was forced to quit. Readers in today’s racially troubled times will recognize Wallace’s plight and the isolation and loneliness he experienced. But Wallace never gave up. After his signature slam dunk was outlawed, he forced himself to become a better player. Author Maraniss doesn’t shy away from the difficulties, not wanting to whitewash history by editing away the ugly epithets that plagued Wallace throughout his career. An author’s note about Wallace’s life after graduation, a bibliography, and black-and-white photos are all included (final source notes and index not seen). This moving biography, a young readers’ edition of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (2014), is thought-provoking, riveting, and heart-wrenching, though it remains hopeful as it takes readers into the midst of the basketball and civil rights action. Readers will celebrate Wallace’s refusal to back down, and cheer as he succeeds in paving the way for future players.

School Library Journal (January 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-Vanderbilt University made a strong statement in 1966 when they recruited Perry Wallace, a local teen basketball star who was African American. Students may not be familiar with Wallace, but after reading this poignant biography, they will not forget him. Readers meet him as a child whose loving family provided him with the care and attention he needed to thrive academically, then follow him onto the court, where he yearned-and then learned-to dunk. Maraniss speeds through Wallace’s senior year at Pearl High, in Tennessee, where recruiters from schools across the country were eager to add him to their rosters. His years at Vanderbilt, where he broke the color barrier in the Southeastern Conference, receive the most attention, with great sports writing meeting heartfelt interludes of Wallace’s efforts to bring about change for his fellow black students. Maraniss does not shy away from the ultimate truth: Wallace experienced vicious racism and countless death threats as well as racial slurs, discrimination, and unfair treatment on and off the court. Wallace is quoted abundantly throughout the text, and the bibliography is packed with primary sources, offering ample research opportunities for those compelled to dig deeper into the civil rights struggle of Wallace and other black athletes. VERDICT This portrait of the fortitude of a young athlete will make a huge impact on teens and is guaranteed to spark serious discussion.-Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

About the Author

Andrew Maraniss is a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas, and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife, Alison, and their two young children.

His website is www.andrewmaraniss.com.

Teacher Resources

Supplement to Strong Inside

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Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball by Howard Bryant

Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Basketball by Howard Bryant. December 20, 2016. Philomel Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780399169052.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 1130.

From Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan to LeBron James to Steph Curry, ESPN’s Howard Bryant presents the best from the hardwood–a collection of NBA champions and superstars for young sports fans! 

Fast-paced, adrenaline-filled, and brimming with out-of-this-world athleticism, basketball has won the hearts of fans all across America—yet it is particularly popular among kids and teens. Giants of the game like Steph Curry, LeBron, and Michael Jordan have transcended the sport to become cultural icons and role models to young fans. From the cornfields of Indiana and the hills of North Carolina, to the urban sprawl of New York City, Chicago and L.A., love of the game stretches from coast to coast.

Featuring Top Ten Lists to chew on and debate, and a Top 40-style Timeline of Key Moments in Basektball History, this comprehensive collection includes the greatest dynasties, from the Bill Russell-era Celtics, to the Magic Jonson-led Lakers, to the Jordan-led Bulls, right up to the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. All the greats take flight toward the hoop in this perfect book for young fans who dream about stepping on an NBA court.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 7))
Grades 4-7. Bryant continues his series on the history of professional American sports with a decade-by-decade account of the rise of the NBA (and ABA) from the 1950s to the 2016 Finals this past June. Rather than present a rigidly systematic chronicle or an indigestible barrage of names and statistics, he begins chapters with highlight reels of each era’s leading players and teams and then follows with amplified tributes to select stars of the court, breathless tales of hard fought Finals, rosters of colorful nicknames, and tallies of top 10 teams, players, and epic performances—all with fulsome explanatory comments. Aside from brief glances at drugs and racial issues, the author rarely, if ever, looks past the court action to the players’ private lives or pre- and post-professional careers. Complete basketball newbies will flounder, but readers with a basic grasp of the game’s rules, jargon, and history will find this a trove of awesome athletic feats, game-changing stars of the past and present, and rich fodder for heated arguments.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2017)
Gr 4-7-This latest from ESPN and former Washington Post journalist Bryant alternates among overviews of each decade since the 1960s, profiles of particular players or accounts of high-profile matchups, and themed “Top 10” lists. It lends itself well to browsing, though the format also leads to frequent repetition as the same facts surface in multiple accounts. Along the way, readers learn about the founding of the American Basketball Association and its merging with the National Basketball Association in 1976, as well as the changes to the game in the face of public image problems in the early 1980s, and many long-running rivalries, especially those between the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers. A huge number of great names are highlighted, including Bill Russell of the Celtics, the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas, and Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson. An entire chapter is dedicated to the storied career of Michael Jordan, including his six national championships, an Olympic gold medal with the 1992 “Dream Team,” and two years playing Minor League Baseball after the shooting death of his father. Bryant’s history continues through LeBron James’s triumphant championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though plenty of historical narrative is provided, much of the text consists of statistics-heavy description of play; this book is definitely aimed at the basketball junkie. VERDICT An easy hook for serious sports fans seeking an exploration of the history of basketball.-Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

Howard Bryant is a multi-award-winning author; sports journalist; and radio and television personality with ESPN and NPR. He is the author of the LEGENDS series for young readers; Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in BostonThe Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron; and Juicing the Game. The only two-time winner of the prestigious Casey Award for baseball writing, Howard is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, appears frequently on ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters” and on ESPN Radio, and is a regular contributor to NPR’s Weekend Edition.

His website is www.HowardBryant.net.

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Frank by LJ Alonge

Frank by LJ Alonge. February 21, 2017. Grosset & Dunlap, 128 p. ISBN: 9780451533593.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: 4.0; Lexile: 690.

An action-packed basketball series from author LJ Alonge set on the courts of Oakland, CA.

Frank’s not great at staying out of trouble. He’s also not great at driving cars. After his joyride ends in a crash, he’s stuck with a court-appointed Community Mentor for the summer.

But it’s not too bad. Officer Appleby’s all right. And if anyone can handle a basketball team, a police officer, and a new girl on the horizon, it’s Frank Torres.

Sequel to: Janae

Part of Series: Blacktop

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

About the Author

LJ Alonge has played pick-up basketball in Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, Kenya, South Africa and Australia. Basketball’s always helped him learn about his community, settle conflicts, and make friends from all walks of life. He’s never intimidated by the guy wearing a headband and arm sleeve; those guys usually aren’t very good. As a kid, he dreamed of dunking from the free throw line. Now, his favorite thing to do is make bank shots. Don’t forget to call “bank!”

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Frank on Amazon

Frank on Goodreads

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Frank Publisher Page

Quicks by Kevin Waltman

Quicks by Kevin Waltman. December 27, 2016. Cinco Puntos Press, 216 p. ISBN: 9781941026618.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

D-Bow’s game has it all, and colleges are taking notice. But he’s still rehabbing a knee injury and his job as Marion East point guard is under threat. Plus he’s got family drama. And girl trouble. Can he put it all together for his senior season? Or will he crash and burn like so many Marion East players before him?

Part of Series: D-Bow High School Hoops

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes

 

About the Author

Kevin Waltman was born in Bedford, Pennsylvania, and spent his teens and twenties in Indiana–time spent mostly around basketball courts and political events. He moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2001 to get his MFA in fiction at The University of Alabama. There, he met his wife, Jessica Kidd. He now lives in Coker, Alabama, with Jessica, their daughter Calla, and their dog Henry. He teaches. He writes. He gardens. He cuts kudzu from their woods.

His website is www.kevinwaltman.com.

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Dust Bowl Girls by Lydia Reeder

Dust Bowl Girls: A Team’s Quest for Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder. January 24, 2017. Algonquin Books, 304 p. ISBN: 9781616204662.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

At the height of the Great Depression, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming. Like so many others, he wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm, he recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education if they would come play for his basketball team, the Cardinals.

Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices faced by their families, the women followed Babb and his dream. He shaped the Cardinals into a formidable team, and something extraordinary began to happen: with passion for the game and heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach, they won every game.

Combining exhilarating sports writing and exceptional storytelling, Dust Bowl Girls conveys the intensity of an improbable journey to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, helmed by the legendary Babe Didrikson. And it captures a moment in American sports history when a visionary coach helped his young athletes achieve more than a winning season.

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
One of the more unlikely national champions in U.S. sports history was the 1932 women’s basketball team from tiny, financially strapped Oklahoma Presbyterian College. Coach Sam Babb, who, probably not coincidentally, taught Psychology 101 at the school, masterfully recruited talent, solicited funding for the program, created a culture of unselfish team play, devised unorthodox but effective basketball drills, and instilled in his players the self-assurance they would need in facing public opinion that largely considered basketball “unladylike.” And, more urgently, in facing (three times that season) the reigning national champion Dallas Golden Cyclones, led by legendary sportswoman Babe Didrikson. Author Reeder, Babb’s grandniece, had access to such primary materials as player diaries, which reveal the players’ relationships to one another and their coach, and to a dust-bowl era and region marked by serious hardship.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A former magazine editor tells the story of how, at the height of the Great Depression, her great-uncle trained a group of young women from rural Oklahoma to become college basketball stars.The son of a stern preacher father, Missourian Sam Babb survived a leg amputation in his teenage years to become a successful Oklahoma school superintendent. His career took an unexpected turn in the early 1920s when he decided to become a part-time high school girls basketball coach. By 1929, he had taken a full-time coaching position at Oklahoma Presbyterian College. On a recruiting trip to bring new talent to OPC, Babb discovered a poor farm girl named Doll Harris who, during the 1930-1931 season, would become his “star shot maker” and an All-American player. The team he built that year was good enough to win a sportsmanship trophy at the Amateur Athletic Union national tournament, but Babb believed they could do better. The following year, he recruited other talented girls with promises of scholarships and worked to create a national championship–winning team. With barely enough funding to keep the team going, Babb took his players on a barnstorming tour of the South to raise money. His OPC Cardinals won every game, including one against the reigning champions, the Dallas Golden Cyclones. In the meantime, Harris found herself in direct competition with sports phenomenon Babe Didrikson, the golden girl who knew how to charm fans and “leverage publicity” for her own benefit. As she tells the amazing story of Babb and his underdog women’s basketball team, Reeder also reveals the challenges facing serious female athletes during the 1920s and ’30s, including the perceived risk of “destroying their feminine image by invading a man’s world.” Sports fans and general readers alike are sure to find the story both worthwhile and entertaining. A heartwarmingly inspirational tale.

About the Author

Lydia Ellen Reeder is the grandniece of Sam Babb, the extraordinary basketball coach featured in Dust Bowl Girls. She spent over two years conducting research for the book and also wrote and narrated a short film about the Cardinal basketball team, currently on view at the Oklahoma Historical Society website: youtu.be/fokmbnWmp50. As a former associate editor at Whole Life Times in Los Angeles and Delicious Magazine in Boulder, Colorado, Reeder has worked for many years as a copywriter and editor on behalf of corporate and organizational clients and most recently developed e-learning for a national nursing association. She lives in Denver with her husband and enjoys hiking in the mountains of Colorado.

Dust Bowl Girls is her first book.

Teacher Resources

Dust Bowl Lesson Plans

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Dust Bowl Girls on Amazon

Dust Bowl Girls on JLG

Dust Bowl Girls on Goodreads