Friday, May 29, 2020

Dragon Hoops

Yang, Gene Luen. Dragon Hoops
March 17th 2020 by First Second
E ARC provided by Netgalley

This is best described as a graphic novel memoir of Mr. Yang's writing life combined with a history of the Bishop O'Dowd school basketball team. Unsure of what to write about next, Yang draws inspiration from the school where he teachers. While he didn't participate in basketball himself, he is drawn to the team, which does very well but has struggled to bring home a championship. The coach, Lou Richie, was a student at the school, so has deep ties to the community and the basketball program. He agrees to let Yang tag along with the team to get information for his new book. At the same time, Yang struggles with his work life balance, since teaching and working on his graphic novels are time consuming, giving him less time with his family. The book covers not only the Bishop O'Dowd Dragons' season in 2015 and the players involved in that, but also former players and games, Yang's growing understanding of what sports can mean to students, and basketball history from Naismith to current players. Interviews with people involved show that sometimes taking the first step (a theme repeated throughout the book) is the only way to accomplish great things.
Strengths: This is certainly a masterful piece of work that shows how sports teams have a deeper impact on participants than people who don't like sports can imagine. Yang, like many teachers and librarians, doesn't really care about sports himself, but through his work with the team (and some diligent research) finally understands the dramatic impact that sports can have. I particularly liked the stories of the characters (along with lots of history; I didn't know about Gandhi's treatment of the Sikhs!) who came from other cultures but ended up at a Catholic high school for the basketball. There is plenty of sports information for readers who like action on the court. Yang's illustration style is very pleasing and effective, and the cover is fabulous.
Weaknesses: I'm not sure how much students will care about Yang's writing journey, although this will draw in teachers and librarians who don't read a lot about sports.
What I really think: I'll definitely buy a copy, but will look for a prebind. A graphic novel of this length will have some issues with structural integrity

44442956. sx318 Blabey, Aaron. The Baddest Day Yet (Bad Guys #10)
December 26th 2019 by Scholastic Paperbacks
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Snake is dead, and the Bad Guys, as well as the League of Heroes, are gathered for the funeral. Faced with the evil Prince Marmalade, who is determined to take over the universe, the two groups decide to band together, becoming the much cooler named Shadow Squad G. They need to find a way to defeat their conqueror, even though the don't have super powers! Luckily, Legs is stowed away on board Marmalade's ship, as is Rhonda, and the two proceed to voosh! scuttle! and b-donk! the alien before summoning help from their two groups, who in turn have a velociraptor to help them! They also have a space shuttle, Mr. Pirahna's father and his crew, and a secret weapon that is a surprise even to the bad Guys. Will it be enough to save Earth for imminent destruction?

In true Bad Guys' fashion, this mission is fraught with threats, rife with teamwork, and punctuated by bopping alien booty! There are even some inklings of romance as the heroes from different teams get to know each other in between running for their lives. The black and white illustrations alone are enough to inspire giggles, and the goofy aliens, fleets of pirahnas, and sharks in tutus don't make the tone any more serious!

Had this to insatiable readers of Eaton's Flying Beaver Brothers, Winnick's Hilo, Benton's CatWad, Barnett's Spy Kid, and other goofy tales of brave creatures facing overwhelming (and often hysterically funny) odds.

Personally, I preferred the series when the characters were not fighting aliens. The first book is absolutely hysterical, but I have not found the last seven or so to be quite as enjoyable. I'm also not 6-12 years old, and I can't deny the appeal to the target demographic, which is impressively large.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I'm so glad at you liked these books! I'm a big sports fan as well as a book lover and the two sides often don't talk to each other. And I haven't read any of the Bad Guys books but you have made me interested. The more goofball humor in the world, the better!