Hoop Queens


"Young basketball fans will have a hard time keeping still. . . . A great choice to energize poetry units." — BOOKLIST

Margo Dydek, Ticha Penicheiro, Chamique Holdsclaw . . . these are just three of the twelve women profiled in a dynamic group of poems honoring some of the best female players in professional basketball. With action photographs and kinetic lyrics illustrating each player’s style, HOOP QUEENS will grab the attention of any kid ...

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"Young basketball fans will have a hard time keeping still. . . . A great choice to energize poetry units." — BOOKLIST

Margo Dydek, Ticha Penicheiro, Chamique Holdsclaw . . . these are just three of the twelve women profiled in a dynamic group of poems honoring some of the best female players in professional basketball. With action photographs and kinetic lyrics illustrating each player’s style, HOOP QUEENS will grab the attention of any kid who loves basketball — and score a slam-dunk with teachers of poetry.

An International Reading Association Children’s Choice

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

A Chicago Public Library Best Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This energetic if rather uneven roundup of 12 poems pays tribute to a dozen professional woman basketball players in a rap-like rhythm. Smith (Rimshots) often gives each athlete a nickname that sets the theme of and provides images for the verse. Deeming Ticha Penicheiro "The Chef," for instance, Smith notes, "while feeding and serving/ delicious assists/ with wrist-flick tricks,/ Chef T serves/ dishes with slick/ style and/ skill." Of Teresa Weatherspoon, whom he calls "Hurricane T," the author writes, "Strong gusts of wind/ begin/ when/ cornrow-shaped clouds/ spin/ and form/ as T-Spoon/ steps on court/ to perform,/ swirling/ and stirring/ into a storm." In a few instances, the imagery seems forced and less tied to the game (as in the poem devoted to Natalie Williams, whose tag line is "Working Overtime": "Lunch pail toting/ hardhat wearing/ fierce/ rebounding machine,/ punches clock/ to chase the rock/ and wipe the windows/ clean"). The verses are at their best when they stay simple and streamlined, as with the standout "T 4 2" about Tina Thompson ("T for 2/ 2 points for T,/ toes behind line/ make it a 3"). In all of the spreads, bold graphics in earth-toned colors and geometric patterns behind Smith's large-scale, silhouetted photographs of the players effectively emphasize the fast-paced action of the game. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Smith's photographs freeze a dozen professional women basketball players in action, ball firmly under their control, faces clearly announcing their concentration. The photos are set on double pages with various colored shapes in the background along with their names, a nickname, and a prose poem. The words are set in short lines, sometimes only single words, designed to work around the player. These craftily designed pages evoke the athleticism of the players, and with the words move us to feel the emotional power inherent in the movements. The words used are action words, delivered in staccato fashion to match the bouncing basketball or leaping feet. A collection of Poem Notes at the end provides a paragraph for each player that points out some special quality. This book delivers a convincing message: these are tough women playing a demanding game. 2003, Candlewick Press, Ages 8 to 14.
— Ken Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Smith, the author of Short Takes: Fast Break Basketball Poetry (Dutton, 2001), returns to basketball with these lyrical rap poetry tributes to 12 WNBA stars. He gives each player a nickname based on her style, and launches into his ode with all the excitement and grace of the game. For example, Ticha Penicheiro, "The Chef," is described: "Racing and running/and spinning and swerving/in total control/while feeding and serving/delicious assists/with wrist-flick tricks,/Chef T serves/dishes with slick/style and/skill,/finesse and/flair-." Chamique Holdsclaw, the "Fire Starter," throws the winning basket: "Finger-roll finish/for last-second win,/rising and floating/like smoke/to the rim./Blazing a trail/with moves that scorch,/another hot performance/from The Human Torch." Sheryl Swoopes, "The Board Snatcher/Bullet Pass Catcher,/charging hard/through-the-lane/coming-right-at-ya.-/The Ball Stripper/Defense Slipper,/right-side fadeaway/net-cord-ripper" is nicknamed, simply, "All That." Action photos of the athletes are pasted large on colorful, dynamic backgrounds that barely hold the motion-filled poems to the page. Notes about each player and poem communicate the joy Smith finds both in watching the game and writing poetry. Pure pleasure for basketball fans and inspiration for kids who doubted poetry was alive, this book, like Swoopes, is "all that."-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Twelve players of the WNBA find themselves showcased in verse, against aggressively digitized graphics that emphasize speed and power. "Fire Starter" describes Chamique Holdsclaw: "Racing / reversing / leaping / and snaking, / jumping / twirling / taking / and making / long-distance fireballs / ignited with spin. . . . " Each poem takes one double-paged spread, the words laid out in white against bold designs, photographs of the women in action selectively colorized to make for an eye-catching, sometimes overwhelming design. Both photographs and verse highlight athleticism, not prettiness, the faces of the players straining with effort and concentration. Brief notes on each poem explain how Smith chose their guiding metaphors and betray an endearing enthusiasm and respect for these athletes. The verse itself is not uniformly successful, and the subjects' contemporaneity put the collection at risk of dating itself, but the celebration of raw female power makes this nevertheless a worthwhile addition to collections of sports poetry. (Poetry. 8-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763635619
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/11/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 462,407
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.64 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles R. Smith

Charles R. Smith Jr. says that while growing up in California, he read 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 out 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!" Among the books the poet-photographer has written and illustrated is RIMSHOTS: BASKETBALL PIX, ROLLS, AND RHYTHMS, which was selected as an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.

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