Fresh from the news that Dennis Rodman (yes, that Dennis Rodman) has just published a children’s book, BookMarks is taking a look today at several new and forthcoming basketball-related titles for young readers.
The New York Daily News reports that Rodman’s new book, Dennis the Wild Bull (Neighborhood Publishers), tells the story of the nose-ringed, goateed, and otherwise Rodman-resembling Dennis the bull, his move to a new home at the rodeo, and his eventual acceptance by the other bulls there. As Rodman told the Associated Press: “More than anything, I just want little kids today just to understand, ain’t no matter what you do in life, be different, rich or poor man, guess what, it’s OK to be who you are pretty much and you’ll be accepted.”
Earlier this month, Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks released the third title in STAT (Scholastic), his series of semi-autobiographical young adult novels on basketball and life lessons. Facing obstacles like bullying and injury allows the young Amar’e to confront and work through character-building issues related to friendship, loyalty, teamwork and, above all, what it means and takes to excel at basketball.
Stoudemire appeared on 106 & Park last year to discuss the first book in the series, and on NPR’s Weekend Edition for an interview about the series in general. You can also read an excerpt from STAT #3: Slam Dunk at NPR Books.
Stoudemire’s books capture the swagger, joking, and heckling inseparable from basketball played at any level. A new picture book uses a playground shooting game as a jumping off point for more of this same wordplay and creative one-upsmanship. H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers (Egmont, 2012), follows two friends and their traveling game of horse from the neighborhood court to far flung corners of city and globe and, finally, to outer space. Their imaginations fuel a conversation played out across geography and vocabulary, celebrating quickness of mind as much as ball-handling skill.
Rodman and Stoudemire aren’t the first NBA players to publish basketball-related books for kids. In 2009, Chris Paul, then with the New Orleans Hornets, published Long Shot: Never Too Small to Dream Big, a collaboration with illustrator Frank Morrison. On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 2007 book about the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, looked at sports promotion in the early days of basketball.
Young readers not yet immersed in the history of basketball—or curious to know more—may also find their way to the forthcoming Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, written by John Coy and illustrated by Joe Morse (Carolrhoda Books). Coy, the author of numerous young adult books about sports, pursued his interest in James Naismith and the invention of basketball over the course of nine years, including extensive research and visits to various sites associated with Naismith’s life. Morse’s illustrations complement the narrative with a palette of dark, saturated colors and brown underdrawing reminiscent of sepia-toned photographs.
A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.