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Hoop Kings

Hoop Kings

by Charles R. Smith

With pumping, energetic, rap-inspired wordplay, Smith profiles the distinctive playing styles of the 12 best male pro basketball players in this collection of poems, now available in a digest size.


With pumping, energetic, rap-inspired wordplay, Smith profiles the distinctive playing styles of the 12 best male pro basketball players in this collection of poems, now available in a digest size.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After paying homage to Hoop Queens, Charles R. Smith Jr. now focuses on 12 male NBA superstars in Hoop Kings. Memorable imagery and slick rhythms (not to mention an actual-size Shaq shoe print on a foldout) combine to create poetic portraits (such as the one for Allen Iverson: "Crooked cornrows/ cause chaotic/ and catastrophic collisions/ with precision"). Smith's signature bold photographs, playful type, and electric colors and design blend 1970s-era basketball, modern street ball and hip-hop influences. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
If you want a book that will make sports-minded boys find themselves suddenly interested in poetry, this is it. Smith presents a dozen poems about current basketball greats, such as Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, and Kobe Bryant. The poems are illustrated with oversized, colorized black-and-white photographs of each player caught in the moment of leaping, bounding, and dunking (O'Neal's page opens up to a triple-spread featuring an amazing life-size photo of the sole of his basketball shoe). An extremely helpful author's note at the end of the book explains the central concept of each poem: Vince Carter, in "Out of This World," is compared to "an asteroid on fire/ from the deep/ deep reaches of space"; Stephon Marbury is likened to the Coney Island Cyclone ride; painting imagery is used to describe Kobe Bryant (who paints "basketball masterpieces/ . . . on hardwood canvas/using bold brush strokes/of a bouncing ball"); Tracy McGrady's poem is built almost entirely around a central rhyme scheme based on the suffix "-ator"—innovator, captivator, statistic generator, rebound accumulator, air levitator, helicopter aviator, and so on. This energetic collection makes poetry cool, fun, and eminently accessible to young sports fans: a slam dunk! 2004, Candlewick, Ages 8 up.
—Claudia Mills
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up-Combining dynamic illustrations and full-bodied language, Smith's latest collection of poems enthusiastically conveys both love for and knowledge of the game. Twelve superstars dominate the pages, each with his own spread featuring photographic images and a poem designed to match the player's unique style. The book begins with Allen Iverson ("By Any Means Necessary"): "Crooked cornrows/cause chaotic/and catastrophic collisions/with precision./Your mission/and goal:/put the ball/in the hole/using lightning-quick speed/and total body control." Chris Webber ("Velvet Hammer") is represented by four energetic haiku poems: "Relentless reflexes/rattle rising rebounds/into rigid rims." Jason Williams ("The Amazing") is introduced with a circus barker's voice describing him as a magician: "SEE/3-point illusions/baffle your mind/when toes are behind/the arc/and spark/long-distance matches,/lighting a torch/to scorch/nylon nets." And, of course, no book about contemporary stars would be complete without Shaquille O'Neal ("What's in a Name?"): Super/Human/Atomic/Quake." Dominating the center pages of the book, Shaq's actual shoe sole appears on a foldout page. This book will have enormous appeal for all ages; basketball fans will love it, but so will others who respond to color, lively language, and energy. Readers will experience a wild ride!-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another of Smith's poetic tributes to hoops and the star athletes of the game and a companion to his earlier Hoop Queens. Readers of previous collections will get more of what they expect in this collection of 12 poems, each dedicated to a different player who is currently well-known and at the top of his game. This would include Kobe Bryant, whose career on the court is currently being overshadowed by events in a courtroom, but pure fans won't mind. They may, however, object to the changes of the colors of uniform, for example the Lakers purple and yellow is now red and black or the chartreuse green on the page for Timberwolf Kevin Garnett. Surprisingly dominant player Shaquille O'Neal doesn't seem to get a true poem, but a double-page spread that showcases his actual shoe size. Smith does add a page for himself and some insight into his thoughts about the players leading to his poems. A solid jump shot, but no slam-dunk. (Poetry. 8-14)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.10(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Charles R. Smith, Jr. says that while growing up in California, he spent many hours reading anything he could get his hands on. "Reading books filled with stories and poems inspired me to write my own," he says. "The more I read, the more I wrote. And if I wasn’t reading a book, I was playing a sport: I played everything, particularly basketball, and spent many afternoons on the court, perfecting my jump shot." While working on his high school yearbook as a writer, Charles R. Smith Jr. was introduced to photography and immediately decided to make a career of it. He graduated from photography school and headed to New York to pursue his dream. "I continued with my writing, and, with a heavy influence of rap music, began writing more poetry instead of stories," he says. "Now, I have combined my photographic skills with my love of reading, writing, and sports to create an exciting career for myself!" In addition to the companion book HOOP QUEENS, Charles R. Smith Jr. wrote and illustrated the American Library Association Notable Book RIMSHOTS: BASKETBALL PIX, ROLLS, AND RHYTHMS, among other titles.

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