H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination

by Christopher Myers

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One day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge—H.O.R.S.E.?

But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops.

Not when a layup
        from the other side of the court


One day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge—H.O.R.S.E.?

But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops.

Not when a layup
        from the other side of the court
                     standing on one foot
                               with your eyes closed  is just the warm-up.

Around the neighborhood, around the world, off Saturn’s rings, the pair goes back and forth.

The game is as much about skill as it is about imagination.

A slam dunk from multi-award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Myers, H.O.R.S.E. is a celebration of the sport of basketball, the art of trash-talking, and the idea that what’s possible is bounded only by what you can dream.

A 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This wonderfully inventive, mordant duel of words offers both an advanced discussion of a particular sport (basketball) and flights of big-talking fancy. The setting is urban; Myers (Looking Like Me) creates collages that combine painting, lots of blank space, and photo images of city buildings. A pair of gangly and competitive boys co-star. “Hey,” says one, “want to play a game of horse?” setting the stage for a war of words in which the boys propose ever more improbable shots, taking the one-upmanship, swagger, and style inherent to the game to delirious extremes. “I will stand on one tiny tiptoe, balance myself on the topmost corner of the 437-story building, and shoot a perfect layup, with my left... foot,” says one boy. “Now you tell me,” protests the other in mock dismay. “What?” “That we could leave the court.” Although the book lands softly after the last crazy idea (“from there, the ball will ricochet through the vacuum of space”), the energetic dialogue and gravity-defying artwork more than compensate. An excellent readaloud for kids who scorn fluffy-bunny books and want to play like the big kids. Ages 5–up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Two friends on an urban basketball court begin a game of H.O.R.S.E. For the uninitiated, Myers does a fine job describing how to play the game, which is similar to Ghost: one player shoots any kind of shot (layup, jumper, etc.) and the other player has to duplicate it. If the second player fails to make the shot, he gets one letter and the game continues until someone loses five times and spells the word H.O.R.S.E. It sounds simple enough, until these two players get creative, such as balancing on the top of a 437-story building and shooting a perfect layup with the left foot. As the friends raise the stakes and the braggadocio rises to an inventive pitch, readers will appreciate the grand humor. White or plain background space emphasizes the dramatic shots that are dreamed up. In addition, the text waves up and beyond the skyline just as the ball can soar. This book will encourage all readers to grab a close friend and get out to play a game, matching their athleticism to their imaginations.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Two teens on a city basketball court start a game of matching each other's shots. Miss five tries and you are out! The first to spell out H.O.R.S.E. loses, so these two literally shoot for the stars. Easy shots are baby stuff for them. Their conversation goes back and forth as the hoopsters, a guy and a gal, leave the physical confines of the court and let their imaginations take flight. He takes a mighty jump for his "Magellan shot," leaving New York and going "clear around the world." She aims an "outer-space resistant" ball with a "kind of bounce shot" that hits Saturn, mystifies astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, returns to Earth and slips cleanly through the hoop. "Not bad at all," responds the guy. Myers has great fun with his gravity-defying trash talk and spirited game of one-upmanship. His ballplayers are beautiful, elongated figures painted in brightly textured yellow, blue and brown pastels. Photographic collages of New York City buildings adorn the pages. In his author's note, Myers states that the shots are all fact-based. Who's to argue? An exciting bragging-rights adventure on the basketball court, around and beyond planet Earth and back again. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
12.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)
AD650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Like the ballplayers in this book, Christopher Myers defies gravity every chance he can get. Their imagination took them into outer space; his has taken him from Harlem during its Renaissance in  Harlem: A Poem, written by Walter Dean Myers, to vibrant city streets in Black Cat, from the bounds of Earth with Wing and Fly! and into a fiercely fought basketball game in Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll. 

For these flights of imagination, Christopher has received many awards and honors, including a Caldecott Honor, three Coretta Scott King Honors, three Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors, and a New York Times Best Illustrated award.

When he isn’t working, Christopher plays touch football with a bunch of other artists in Brooklyn, New York.

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