Basketball Showdown

Cindy: How do arch rivals survive together? Very carefully. Lynn is a dyed in the (black and gold) wool Purdue Boilermaker while I am an Indiana Hoosier fanatic. Big Ten Basketball season tests our friendship every winter. When we worked in the same library we used to threaten to put a line down the middle of the library to separate us during the season, but Lynn wanted a black and gold line while Cindy wanted a red and white line so we just had to go without. (You’ll notice that the Bookends blog has a red accent!–thanks, Keir!) Our teams face off today at 2 p.m. and it promises to be a good game (for one of us, anyway). We do agree that sports fiction is fun to read, and we enjoy finding a good basketball book to read during our games’ commercials. We have another basketball book saved for a March Madness post, but in the meantime, here are a couple of titles to add to your starting line up:

Lay-Ups and Long Shots: An Anthology of Short Stories by Joseph Bruchac, David Lubar and others (Darby Creek, 2008)

The great cover and title had me hoping this would be a whole collection of basketball stories, but instead it serves up a wide variety of sports from David Lubar’s ping-pong training to an embarrassing white water rafting incident with some lost shorts. There’s something for everyone and not all of the characters are stellar athletes. The diverse high-interest subjects, short story format, and appealing “thin book” size will allow this book to stretch from upper elementary to high school reluctant readers. Given that basketball is my sport, it’s no surprise that my favorite story was Terry Trueman’s verse-infused H-O-R-S-E. I’ve played a lot of games in my day, and his take on the first sweet taste of victory is perfect:

My heart beats
With the strangest rhythm,
One I’ve never
Felt before:
Pride,
Joy,
Victory—
I am twelve
Years old
And I don’t
Realize
That
Nothing,
Nothing,
n-o-t-h-i-n-g—nothing
will ever
taste
this sweet
again.

Boost by Kathy Mackel (Penguin/Dial, 2008)

Lynn: I love well-written sports books but I think they are hard to find. Either the sports is peripheral or worse – wrong – or the writing is cheesy. Sports books for girls are an even rarer commodity so Boost was a very pleasant surprise. When Savvy’s family moves to Rhode Island, she and her older sister Callie turn to the things they excel at to fit into their new school. For Savvy, 13 and already 6′ 2″ tall, it is basketball, and she makes the elite Under 18’s team much to the dismay of some older girls. Callie doesn’t make the transition as well, vegging and eating junk food over the summer and gaining enough weight that she is bumped from flyer to base on the cheerleading squad. Mackel explores the intense pressures on girls, steroid use, and family relationships in this interesting book along with some excellent basketball. Savvy, who is innocent, is suspected of steroid use and suspended from the team. The depiction of her frustration, anger and despair is especially well done and this theme is always popular with our teens. Great cover too! Perfect half-time reading. Let me just add that I plan to be sitting in front of the television today wearing my Paint Crew shirt and cheering on my Boilermakers!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

10 Comments on "Basketball Showdown"

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  1. Two Points – A Basketball Story | My Blog | June 21, 2009
  1. jacktiggs@gmail.com' Jack says:

    Wow, I might just have to dust off Sports Kid for this game!

    Every summer when I’m at camp, I love to read books by Mike Lupica. A lot of times the counselor yells at me for staying up so late with a flashlight!

  2. palandgr@umich.edu' Pam L. says:

    For girl sports stories, don’t forget “Dairy Queen” by Catherine Murdock. I think you guys recommended it previously (before Booklist blog). Fun touching book about a girl football player who helps run her family’s Wisconsin dairy farm.

  3. Yes, Jack, I definitely think you should report on today’s game on sportskidblog.com and we’ll all tune in tomorrow to read your report. Keep in mind that my Hoosiers only have one scholarship player, a first year coach, and are in a major rebuilding phase following the Sampson unethical era. Go easy on my guys! And for the record, campers who stay up late reading with a flashlight should get relieved from KP duty!

    Pam, you have a good memory. Lynn and I are both fans of Murdock’s Dairy Queen series. While I wait for my game to tip, I hope others will chime in with other favorite sports recommendations, for guys or gals. –Cindy

  4. sbeauregard@ala.org' Sue-Ellen says:

    It must be hard to be a Hoosier fan this year, Cindy, and how about those Northwestern Wildcats beating Purdue last night (March 4). Just had to comment on your basketball loyalties, ladies.
    From a Badger and UWM Panther fan.

  5. Thanks, Sue-Ellen. Since it is an off year for IU, I’m thrilled that the Wildcats are having such a great one. They deserve it. Enjoy it while it lasts, because the Hoosiers are on the rise! We have nowhere to go but up! I am thrilled with our new coach, Tom Crean, and proud of the Hoosiers for being such good fans to this team during a rebuilding season. And, any team that beats Purdue is a friend of mine! 😉

  6. I should have signed that last post, but I guess it’s obvious that it wasn’t Lynn’s comments! –Cindy

  7. SoccrE13Rockr@aim.com' Savana says:

    I loved the book boost its was the type of book that you have to keep on reading! Also I think that Lynn says it all about the book. except on little error when u said callie was innocent and was suspected of steroid use and was suspenend from the team. well that was Savvy (savannah) just thought i would point that out. i would also recomend this book to girls who are interested in basketball and are from the age of 12-20+ because younger girls and or boys might not understand the concerpt. thanks

  8. Savana,

    Thank you for catching my error! It is indeed Savvy that I meant but used the wrong name. I corrected the error. Thanks for your sharp eyes.

  9. SoccrE13Rockr@aim.com' Savana says:

    Your welcome thats just how my eye is sharp as a knife haha

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