Basketball Belles by Sue Macy

Lynn: I usually don’t think much about my age but while I certainly wasn’t around in 1896, the time of Basketball Belles:  How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map (Holiday 2011), I did play “Girl’s Basketball” rules in high school.  Girls were considered too delicate to do more than 3 bounces and pass and certainly couldn’t run past the half-court line!  Happily those days are long past and Macy’s outstanding book reminds girls of how far we have come AND shows that even at the very start under ridiculous restrictions, women played a great game of hoops.

As told by Agnes Morley, one of Stanford University’s players (and a very interesting young woman), that first women’s collegiate game was a wild one!  Since men weren’t supposed to see ladies perspire, the audience for that historic game was made up of 500 wildly cheering women as the Stanford team won in a buzzer-beater 2-1.  I loved Mat Collins’ dynamic illustrations!  He uses big bold two-page spreads and court-level perspectives that make the action jump right out of the pages.  One of my favorites is a view from floor level with a stampede of black bloomer-clad legs thundering by and it is clear these girls played hard.  There is a lot of wonderful infused humor too and I especially like the Laurel-and-Hardy-like depiction of the janitors who have to come in to fix the off-kilter basket in the middle of the game.

Macy provides a fascinating author’s note with additional history, a timeline of Women’s Basketball and excellent resources.  A terrific book for elementary readers and one that could be used to great effect at middle school as well.

Cindy: I am glad that Lynn infused a little basketball during this football-crazed season. While my family is all trashing the referees in last night’s Chicago Bears – Green Bay Packers’ game, I am eagerly awaiting the start of college basketball practice. When I booktalk women’s sports history books like Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX by Karen Blumenthal I always tell the students about my junior high days of girls’ basketball, where, like Lynn, the year after the passing of Title IX we had three forwards that had to stay at the offensive end of the court and three defenders at the other end and then the two girls who played rovers/guards who were allowed to run the whole court and play both offense and defense. And then there were those one-piece 100% cotton snap-up gym suits that were neither comfortable nor attractive! We’ve come a long way, baby!

Lynn covered the strengths of this book very well; I’d just like to add my enthusiasm for sharing this with children and teens. Thank you Sue Macy for another fine addition to the canon.  It is stories like this one that bring the long history of women’s rights into focus…one small victory at a time.

Check out more Nonfiction Monday blog posts at today’s host: True Tales & a Cherry On Top!



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.

3 Comments on "Basketball Belles by Sue Macy"

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  1. Great review, Cindy and Lynn. I look forward to reading this book, and seeing the illustrations. The perspective of the cover illustration draws me right in!

    Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday!

  2. I like your tie-in with women’s rights. Sounds like a good book to work with students into sports and students working with social issues.
    Thanks for the recommendation.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  3.' Susan T. says:

    Hey, y’all. Enjoyed your review–as well as the book. Question: How can this be nonfiction? (I know most libraries are filing it there, but still.) It’s told from a first-person point of view, but written by a current-day author. Certain thoughts, also, have to be fictionalized; there’s no way the author could have known (unless I’m missing something). If this were a book for adults, it would be considered a fictionalized version of real events. Why is it different for a kids’ book?

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