Saturday, March 18, 2023

Saturday Morning Cartoons- Hoops

Tavares, Matt. Hoops
March 14th 2023 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Judi plays a lot of pick up basketball games with her brothers in early 1970s Indiana, but when she enters high school, she joins the cheerleading squad with her best friend Stacey. When a girls' basketball team is started because of Title IX, she goes to the tryouts to check it out. Everyone makes the team, but the playing conditions are less than ideal. They have to practice at an elementary school, and there's not even a coach, because the administration thinks it should be an unpaid, volunteer position, but the coach fights to be paid, and for the girls to have the high school gym at 7 p.m. for practice. There are still no uniforms, so the girls put their numbers on white t shirts with electrical tape. Judi quits cheerleading, which angers Stacey, but she makes new friends in fellow teammates Tree and Lisa. The school won't bus the girls anywhere; the coach borrows a relative's Winnebago to drive them. Tree's boyfriend is on the track team, and the boys there loan the girls their warm up suits. There are no team meals, so Judi buys babyfood meals at a convenience store. The girls even work together to sell tickets, since the principal says the boys get perks because the school makes money on their games. Sadly, even though they sell tickets, no one shows up. They publicize their games on the radio, and as the season progresses and they do well, they manage to get some support from the community. When they make some demands to even the playing field, they meet a lot of resistance. Will they be able to successfully make their case for equality and have a successful basketball season?
Spoiler: Fifty years later, we are still waiting for sports equality. 
Strengths: This was not only a fun read, it's important for young readers to know what life was like. I frequently tell my students that my high school didn't have a girls' cross country team until 1981, and they are flabbergasted. The level of detail about the challenges the girls faced was perfect, and I loved the notes about the real players on whom this is based! The fashions, the way the buildings looked, details like eating the babyfood (the fruit desserts are the best, by the way!), even Judi's Toni Tennille haircut are spot on. Judi clearly loves basketball, has grown up in a cultural that values it, and wants her own chance to be in the spotlight with her formidable skills. Excellent, excellent book! 
Weaknesses: The characters'  names weren't used very much, so it was hard to remember what they were. The illustrations really captured the look of the 1970s except for the sleds. They look like the plastic ones my children had in the early 2000s. Flexible Flyers would have been the sled most people had in the 1970s, although I'm not prepared to do a deep dive into the history of sleds to back this up! 
What I really think: I knew this author from his Growing Up Pedro, but I have to say that his real strength is graphic novels and he should devote his entire life to writing them from now on. Forget picture books. There are plenty of picture books. Sports graphic novels, not so much! It is interesting that graphic novels are heavily skewed towards female characters, but more boys seem to read them. While boys might not pick up regular novels with girls as the main characters, they will pick up ANY graphic novel, so I see an evil plan brewing there somewhere. Love, love, loved this and will buy two copies. Pair with Wilson's Play Like a Girl and Maraniss' Inaugural Ballers

Ms. Yingling

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