Hoops by Matt Tavares

Published by Candlewick

Summary:  The story opens on a November evening in 1970.  Judi Wilson is watching her older brother and his friends play basketball, while her friend Stacy practices cheers.  When they head off to the high school game, Judi picks up the ball, dreaming of making the winning shot at a big game.  Fast forward five years, and Judi and Stacy are senior co-captains of the cheerleaders, rooting on the boys’ basketball team.  When Judi hears that a girls’ team is forming, she decides to try out, abandoning cheerleading and upsetting Stacy.  Only eight girls show up, so they’re all part of the new team.  Despite the lack of uniforms, a bus, meal money, or the use of the high school gym, the girls love playing and begin to win games.  As they get better known, they’re allowed to use the gym when the boys are done with it, but they still have to wear t-shirts with their numbers taped on with electrical tape and drive to away games in their coach’s borrowed RV.  Finally, when they make it to the state championship, the athletic director apologizes in front of the school for his shabby behavior, and the booster club gives them real uniforms.  In the final game of the championship, the score is tied with just seconds left, and Judi gets a chance for the winning basket, bringing the story full circle to her early dream.  Includes a 4-page author’s note about how he came to write this book and with additional information about Title IX.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Based on a true story, this graphic novel is fun and fast-paced, showing the uphill battle female athletes faced in the early days of Title IX.  Although it takes place in high school, the friendships and sports action will be enjoyed by elementary and middle school readers.  While I love Matt Tavares’s picture books, I hope he’ll continue with graphic novels as well!

Cons:  Judi’s sweatshirt on the last few pages indicates that she’s on a college basketball team, but I wish I found out for sure if she and her teammates got to play in college.

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