________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005


How Basketball Works. (How Sports Works).

Keltie Thomas. Illustrated by Greg Hall.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2005.
64 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-897066-19-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-897066-18-X (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Basketball-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


Legend has it that the floor of Boston Garden, the Celtics’ old home, was riddled with dead spots- areas where the ball would “drop dead” instead of bouncing back up. Built during a wood shortage after World War II, the floor was made of wood scraps that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Opponents believed the Celtics maneuvered visiting players to the dead spots to steal the ball. Some former Celtics say they did use the floor advantage. Others say there was no advantage whatsoever-they never knew where the spots would be because the floor was put together differently every night. Still, former Celtics coach Red Auerbach once said, “If [other] teams felt it was a poor floor, I used it for an advantage by playing with their minds.” How’s that for flooring your opponents?


From its bright, appealing cover to the fast-paced action inside, this book, the third in the “How Sports Work” series, is a slam dunk! Seven chapters cover a variety of topics and trace the development of basketball, from its invention in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith, who used peach baskets for goals, to the present day game played all over the world. The most important piece of equipment is the ball which has undergone many changes since Naismith’s time. Readers will learn about the ball’s material, regulation size, color, air pressure, “bounceability” and longevity in terms of the number of bounces it can make before losing its “oomph” (it’s 40,000 to 50,000 bounces!). Thomas goes on to explain about the evolution of the basketball court with the addition of backboards, shot clocks and court lines, and the uniform and athletic shoes worn by players, the main focus being on shoe design. One chapter is devoted to the common characteristics of successful athletes, such as the importance of proper nutrition, skill development, training and practice, the ability to avoid and/or deal with injuries, and mental focus, including visualization and maintaining a positive attitude even during a slump. Another chapter features the science behind jump shots, passes and shot blocks and provides helpful hints and experiments to demonstrate the concepts. Other topics in the book include the advantage of a player’s height, how to read basketball stats, offensive and defensive plays and the various positions on a basketball team, along with advice on how best to play those positions. At the end of each chapter, there is a page featuring a basketball legend (some examples being Michael Jordan and Julius Erving), and throughout the book are questions and answers, tips for better play, star features and “quick shots” which provide additional trivia. A two-page glossary lists basketball-related terms that will not only help readers to better understand the game itself, but also to understand the colour commentary on televised games. A table of contents and an index are included.

     Thomas’s writing style is fast-paced and lively, engaging the reader throughout the book. Jam-packed with information, this book not only demonstrates Thomas’s thorough knowledge of the game, but also her ability to combine history, science and sport and to select interesting stories about NBA players and teams. Abundant photos, diagrams and Hall’s often amusing illustrations, along with the vibrant colours and graphically appealing layout, perfectly complement the text.

     Enjoyable, entertaining and informative, this book is a sure winner!

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird’s Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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