Strong to the Hoop

( 1 )

Overview

When James is finally allowed to play basketball on the main court with the older boys, he has to prove he can hold his own. It's Skins against Shirts, and James is guarding Marcus, the biggest Shirt of them all. Marcus is all muscle, but James has skill and determination on his side. In the end, there's much more than the game point riding on James's last shot. John Coy's energetic prose captures the intensity and emotion of the competition, while Leslie Jean-Bart's photo ...
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Overview

When James is finally allowed to play basketball on the main court with the older boys, he has to prove he can hold his own. It's Skins against Shirts, and James is guarding Marcus, the biggest Shirt of them all. Marcus is all muscle, but James has skill and determination on his side. In the end, there's much more than the game point riding on James's last shot. John Coy's energetic prose captures the intensity and emotion of the competition, while Leslie Jean-Bart's photo collages convey the gritty pace of the game.

Ten-year-old James tries to hold his own and prove himself on the basketball court when the older boys finally ask him to join them in a game.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This eye-catching picture book blends photography and scratchboard drawings in a series of arresting mixed media collages. Coy's (Night Driving) tale describes a dream come true for James, a 10-year-old tagalong who finally gets to play a game of four-on-four with the older boys. Staccato bursts of dialogue and description ("I zoom down the court, ferocious like a lion") emulate the stop-start rhythm of the game as the Shirts and Skins face off. Up against Marcus, whose "muscles push out his shirt," James is off to a rocky start, but he proves he can hang tough, coming through to sink the winning game point shot. Despite a few awkward transitions in the text (e.g., James snaps out of a reverie about playing as an All-Star so abruptly that readers may initially miss why he's been pulled into the game), the kinetic mood is contagious. First-time picture book artist Jean-Bart's innovative use of collage highlights the central action of each illustration; for instance, a photograph in sepia tones with the barest touch of color (for the basketball or the boys' shorts) creates a spotlight on James and Marcus, while black-and-white scratchboard fills in the backdrop. The artist fuses realism with a darkly atmospheric mood to give the compositions an authentically gritty urban feel. Ages 6-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
James, a young African-American boy living in what appears in the illustrations as an inner city area, is watching his older brother, Nate, play basketball with his friends. Suddenly, James is offered the opportunity to join the game. Despite being afraid that he might be too small to compete with these bigger boys, James agrees. He keeps playing through a skinned knee and some trash talking by a player on the opposing team. Finally, James hits the game-winning point and is thrilled when his big brother announces that their game plan all along was to "go to James for the game." This eye-catching picture book combines mixed media illustrations, descriptive use of language, and font choices that make certain words pop off the page. It is certain to hold the interest of young readers, especially those who have experienced the desire to be like their older siblings. 2003 (orig. 1999), Lee & Low Books, Ages 4 to 8.
—Angie Rogers
Children's Literature - Bruce Adelson
Many of us have experienced what ten-year-old James does in this delightful tale of youth and triumph. Watching older brother Nate play basketball, he longs to join the big kids on the court. Dreaming of his big moment, James is always ready to jump into the game at a moment's notice. One day, his wish comes true as one of the older kids is injured. Needing a replacement, they turn to James, nicknamed 'Slinky,' who readily accepts the challenge, albeit somewhat anxiously. Leslie Jean-Bart's masterful illustrations match the author's words perfectly and put the reader right in the middle of the big game, through the taunts, the fouls, as well as all the attendant bruises--physical and emotional. This title will be an excellent addition to school and library collections and sure to appeal to young basketball fans who have their own dreams of playing with the big kids.
Kirkus Reviews
James, ten, makes the most of a sudden chance to run with the big boys in this hard-fought game of playground basketball. Stepping onto the main court and told to guard Marcus, a head taller and hard as a rock, James looks bad at first; his uncertainty fades as he gets into the rhythm of the game, and at last it's his shot that makes the winning point. Coy (Night Driving, 1996) tells the tale in unslangy prose, with brief bursts of dialogue and short, precise descriptions. The text is printed in a typeface aptly named "Blur Light," with chosen words in different sizes and colors. It's an engrossing, if overdesigned, debut for Jean-Bart; the full-color photograph-and-scratchboard collage illustrations, whose roughly inked edges give them an unfinished look, interpret the action literally, in a far more successful evocation of the game's look and feel than that found in Charles R. Smith's Rimshots (1999). In the end, James slaps Marcus's hand, then proudly turns to face the next quartet of challengers. Cleanly compelling. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584301783
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/10/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 496,885
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.11 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2002

    Where hoop dreams begin

    Flowing like street poetry, this story evokes the drama of an inner city scrub game between the Shirts and the Skins. An injury gets 10-year-old James invited to play basketball with his head-taller elders. He fumbles, fighting for respect, until his anger at being teased drives him 'strong to the hoop,' and even the teaser is pleased. 'It feels as good as the last day of school,' says James. Graphically striking, the photos, layout, even the font choice lend detail and richness to the sociology of the inner city neighborhood.

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