Saturday, January 15, 2022

Review: Hardcourt by Fred Bowen

Today's review heads into the world of sports...mainly basketball. Young readers love books about sports (as I hear over and over again from school librarians and kids). So, when I got my hands on this one, I was thrilled. Am I a sports' fan? Well, I've played quite a few sports and been on various teams over the years, but to say I'm a fan of any sport in particular...uh, no. Not really. This book definitely held all sorts of information, and I learned quite a bit.

But read on to find out more!

JANUARY 18th!!!

Stories from 75 Years of The National Basketball Association
by Fred Bowen
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Middle Grade Sports Non-Fiction
112 pages
ages 8 to 12

Celebrate seventy-five years of the NBA in this exciting and beautifully illustrated middle grade account of the legendary athletes, coaches, and teams that changed basketball forever and created a national phenomenon enjoyed by millions today.

The National Basketball Association is the biggest league for one of the nation’s most beloved sports. Played in massive stadiums by athletes who are now household names, with millions of fans around the world, basketball has truly become a global phenomenon. But it didn’t always exist the way we know it now.

Follow basketball from its humble beginnings as a casual indoor pastime played in gyms and colleges through its evolution for seventy-five years of hardcourt history. The NBA gained legions of fans thanks to the introduction of rules like the three-point line and the twenty-four second clock, and teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters, who paved the way for desegregated teams. Discover the story of the legendary Olympic Dream Team of 1992 and beloved players like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James, along with the early game-changers who made basketball what it is today.

With the expert storytelling of veteran sportswriter Fred Bowen and stunning full-page illustrations from award-winning artist James E. Ransome, experience the biggest and best basketball league in the world, the NBA.



Well-written facts and history accompanied by bright and engaging illustrations make this a book to get lost in.

From the very first thoughts of founding a professional basketball team, these pages follow the history of basketball from it's first moments onwards. Hitting upon the development of  the game by a gym teacher with peach baskets, various important moments, personalities, problems and successes of the sport over time are presented and explained. The book is divided into 'quarters' and various chapters under those. At the end of the book, there are several lists of teams, individuals and such, which are great for those who like more exact numbers and details.

I enjoyed the comprehensive view these pages take on the history of the NBA, since it reaches further than just the famous individuals and feats surrounding the league, but includes the history which affected it. It centers around the struggles and intriguing solutions, which kept the dream of basketball alive and brought the NBA to where it is today. This includes organization beyond the NBA and shows how the efforts of those not directly involved in the organization did influence the NBA and did help to keep it alive, directly or indirectly. It definitely gave me a deeper respect for the people behind the sport, and portrays the clever twists and turns used to keep spectators interested in the game...because it wasn't always clear the sport would go on.

The illustrations are very well done and allow the energy of the court to come across clearly. The faces of the individuals mentioned are recognizable and, yet, there's a nice artistic flair, too. But it's the text, which makes this one shine, since it brings across the facts in an interesting fashion...and that in an appropriate as well as easy to understand fashion for the intended age group. It never talks down to the reader, but actually, is one even some adults will enjoy picking up and flipping through.

And here they are...

Fred Bowen is the author of Gridiron and more than twenty additional children’s books about sports, and for the past twenty years has written the weekly KidsPost column in The Washington Post. Fred lives in Maryland with his family. Visit him at

James E. Ransome’s highly acclaimed illustrations for The Bell Rang, which he also authored, received the 2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. His other award-winning titles include the Coretta Scott King winner The Creation; Coretta Scott King Honor Book Uncle Jed’s BarbershopSweet Clara and the Freedom QuiltBefore She Was Harriet, and Let My People Go, winner of the NAACP Image Award. He frequently collaborates with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. One of their recent titles is Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams, which received four starred reviews and was an ALA Notable Children’s Book.  He lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley region with his family. Visit James at

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