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The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began Hardcover – September 15, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2–4—The focus of this slim collection is on the origins of sports, ranging from ancient times (running, swimming, and gymnastics) to modern-day (skateboarding and Frisbees). A factoid introduces each sport; baseball, for example, is linked to Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., a surveyor who drew up the rules of the game in the 1840s and is "often called the father of modern baseball." The best poems offer a lighthearted approach to the creative process; they include "James Naismith's Predicament," which notes that basketball's founder started with the elements he didn't want his game to include (such as balls to be kicked or hit with a stick). Most of the poems are less memorable, however, with forced rhymes and trite observations; in noting soccer's unruly origins, "Kicking the Dane's Head" goes on to conclude that: "And through the years that sport became/a tamer worldwide kicking game." O'Brien's whimsical cartoon illustrations add interest and comic detail; the double-page illustration for "Fast on Their Feet" (gymnastics) shows the ancient bull jumpers of Crete performing vaults, rings, and balance beam exercises with the aid of obliging bulls. This collection will be best appreciated by sports fans and teachers, who will find its innovative approach useful for poetry units.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA END
About the Author
John O'Brien is a well-known NEW YORKER cartoonist. For Clarion, he has illustrated DEAR OLD DONEGAL. He has illustrated many children's books, including "Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who?: The Stories behind Some of America's Patriotic Symbols" by Teresa Bateman. He divides his time between New Jersey and Florida.
The author of more than 25 books for children, Alice Low was born in New York City in 1926. She graduated from Smith College in 1947. Low published her first works for children while raising her own three kids, and went on to combine writing with jobs producing educational filmstrips, teaching creative writing, and doing editing and editorial consulting. She has also volunteered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Perhaps best-known for her amusing fiction for young children ― including the popular The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, which she has since turned into a musical ― Low has also written nonfiction, adapted myths and legends, and selected works for anthologies.
Low lives in Briarcliff Manor, New York, where she enjoys singing and playing tennis.
Top customer reviews
I thought this was going to be a simple book of poems about sports, but was pleasantly surprised when I found a brief introduction to each sport and a fair amount of trivia inside the ingeniously executed poems. Some had some quirky little twists that made me giggle while others had some very interesting facts. For example, "English army officers had played a game called poona in India, and they introduced it to England at a party at Badminton in 1873." John O'Brien's inimitable style of illustration added just the right touch to this jaunty little book of poems. In the back of the book are additional anecdotes and a time line. Do you know who was the first woman golfer? If you don't, you'll just have to read this book to find out!