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Hoop Kings Paperback – September 11, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up--Combining dynamic illustrations and full-bodied language, Smith's latest collection of poems enthusiastically conveys both love for and knowledge of the game. Twelve superstars dominate the pages, each with his own spread featuring photographic images and a poem designed to match the player's unique style. The book begins with Allen Iverson ("By Any Means Necessary"): "Crooked cornrows/cause chaotic/and catastrophic collisions/with precision./Your mission/and goal:/put the ball/in the hole/using lightning-quick speed/and total body control." Chris Webber ("Velvet Hammer") is represented by four energetic haiku poems: "Relentless reflexes/rattle rising rebounds/into rigid rims." Jason Williams ("The Amazing") is introduced with a circus barker's voice describing him as a magician: "SEE/3-point illusions/baffle your mind/when toes are behind/the arc/and spark/long-distance matches,/lighting a torch/to scorch/nylon nets." And, of course, no book about contemporary stars would be complete without Shaquille O'Neal ("What's in a Name?"): Super/Human/Atomic/Quake." Dominating the center pages of the book, Shaq's actual shoe sole appears on a foldout page. This book will have enormous appeal for all ages; basketball fans will love it, but so will others who respond to color, lively language, and energy. Readers will experience a wild ride!--Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 3-6. The author of Rimshots (1999) again combines digitally altered photos and staccato, rap-style lyrics into a paean to the pleasures of b-ball--in this case, as exemplified by 12 current professional stars. Leaving any traces of vulnerability in the locker room, Kobe Bryant issues "high-flyin' / heart-stoppin' / eye-poppin' / jaw-droppin' / gravity-defyin' / fiery-red / DUNKS"; Troy McGrady performs his "One-Man Show"; and Jason Kidd accelerates "from super / to sonic / to hyper / to light." Smith's page-filling action shots, which appear against wide, dramatically angled or spiraled bands of color, capture a sense of the game's speed and grace. Illuminating notes on each poem's style or central image tempt readers to turn back the pages for repeated looks. With their driving energy, the words and pictures (the life-size foldout of Shaquille O'Neal's size 22G shoe sole is great) seem to jump from the page, even after their subjects have switched teams or otherwise moved on. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (September 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076363560X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763635602
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.2 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning children's book author, photographer and poet with over thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem, "My People" and a Coretta Scott King Honor Author Award for his biography on Muhammad Ali, "Twelve Rounds to Glory." Many of his books have also garnered reluctant reader awards, proving that kids that don't like to read, do like to read his books.

Charles combines his passions of writing and photography with a variety of subjects that spark his interest. Even though his early books such as "Rimshots", "Hoop Kings" and "Hoop Queens focus on basketball, Charles has shown the ability to apply his talents to a variety of subjects, including diversity with "I Am America" and "I Am the World", Greek mythology with "The Mighty 12", how slaves built the White House with "Brick by Brick" and Negro League baseball with "Stars in the Shadows" to name a few. His poetry has also been used to paint unique biographical portraits of personal heroes such as the aforementioned Ali, boxer Jack Johnson and soon, guitarist Jimi Hendrix.

Of the distinctive niche Charles fills with his books, he notes, "I want to show students, particularly boys, that there are many ways to pursue their interests, no matter what they may be."

To hear excerpts from his books and learn more about Charles R. Smith Jr, visit his website at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Forthofer on March 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These poems are wonderful - each takes a different approach to characterizing the talent and personalities of these basketball superstars. I have found the poems to appeal to my male students, which is significant and valuable to me, as they are often the students I encounter the greatest resistance from in their first contact with poetry as a form. My only compliant? I just wish the author had included more poems! The ones he wrote are wonderful, but there are only about a dozen. It is quite a slim volume!
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