Monday, April 11, 2022

Review: Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty by Charles R. Smith Jr

Today's read shoots right into the theme of National Poetry Month and hits on sports, too. This one is for middle graders and is the third in a series. Nope, I haven't read the other two books, but then, I highly doubt that's necessary to enjoy a collection of poems. The band caught my eye with its basketball texture. Plus, I love getting my hands on anything to do with sports because I know these are very popular with young readers...and there never seem to be enough of them.

Let's see if this collection is easy as a slam-dunk or heavy as a full-court press!

by Charles R. Smith Jr.
Candlewick Press
Middle Grade Poetry/Sports
40 pages
ages 8 to 12

With this high-energy collection of poems and dynamic photos celebrating twelve pro ballers, Charles R. Smith Jr. scores another slam dunk.

What's your game? Can you fly like Blake Griffin? Are you a lightning-fast force of nature like Russell Westbrook? Or are you a chameleon on the court, racking up nicknames like Steph Curry? From James Harden with his shimmy-shake-spin to "Lord of the Leap, Sir Alley of the Oop" Lebron James, here are a dozen profiles honoring the superb talents and skills of some of the best players in NBA basketball. With bold, graphic photographs and fun, accessible poems infused with his indomitable wordplay, Charles R. Smith Jr. captures the agility and finesse that each of these professionals brings to the game. Poem notes about each featured player offer further inspiration at the end.



A dozen poems play homage to the same number of basketball stars.

This is the third book in a collection of poems, centered around basketball. It's a short collection with only twelve poems, one on each two-page spread. There's a table of contents in the beginning, so that readers can immediately locate a poem about a specific player. At the end of the book, the author explains the inspiration behind each poem and player briefly.

This book makes a solid impression already from the cover on. It holds a basketball-textured siding and keeps the rest simple but clear and eye-pleasing. The illustrations inside follow the same concept, in so far that the highlighted player is clear (black and white photo with colored uniform) while the background is extremely simple and unimportant. The poem is written in larger, bold font with the title huge and bold, and the player's name underneath and obvious. Some poems are short, others longer, but all are easy to read and flow with a similar tick as a real-life game.

The author has chosen twelve, well-known players from the NBA, taken their strengths or known highlights, and let the creative juices flow in a way, which matches the excitement of playing the game. The phrases are short, clip, and spot-on. Some poems are simply a lot of fun, while others take a bit more word play and depth. I'm not sure readers of the age group will grasp everything, especially in one or two poems, but for the most part, they come over very age appropriate. If nothing else, there's a little to learn about most of the players, and that does make it interesting.

And here he is...

Charles R. Smith Jr. is the author of Hoop Queens and its companion, Hoop Kings, as well as Pick-Up GameChameleon, and Twelve Rounds to Glory, a Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor Book. He is also the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his photographs accompanying Langston Hughes’s poem in My People. Charles Smith Jr. lives in New York.

No comments: