h.o.r.s.e.: a game of basketball and imagination

Emma of Miss Print and Nicole at The Book Bandit have started a new weekly feature called Monday Memories.  To participate, all you have to do is take a photo of one of your books (or a library book that means a lot to you) and talk a bit about why it made an impression.  Today I'm going to talk about Christopher Myers’ picture book H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination.

h.o.r.s.e.: a game of basketball and imagination by christopher myers book coverOne day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge--H.O.R.S.E.? But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops.

Not when a layup
     from the other side of the court
             standing on one foot
                       with your eyes closed
                                  is just the warm-up.

Around the neighborhood, around the world, off Saturn’s rings, the pair goes back and forth.

The game is as much about skill as it is about imagination.

A slam dunk from multi-award-winning author/illustrator Christopher Myers, H.O.R.S.E. is a celebration of the sport of basketball, the art of trash-talking, and the idea that what’s possible is bounded only by what you can dream.

I met author/illustrator/very-tall-person Christopher Myers this last spring in New York at a breakfast event put on by Egmont USA.  Myers is a talented artist AND an entertaining conversationalist, and he kept our entire table amused with basketball stories.  It was special to hear straight from the author about his inspiration for his Coretta Scott King Honor book.  Afterward he was kind enough to personalize a copy of H.O.R.S.E. for me.  It was an early meeting, so I can’t say I was my most sparkling self, but I remember the morning fondly, and the book is of course a beautiful reminder.

But what about the story?  It’s a conversation between two kids in the city, united by their love of basketball and wide imaginations.  They know the game H.O.R.S.E. by different names, and they may have different ideas of the parameters – but once it starts, their dreams expand.  It’s half trash talk, half tall tale, and a joy to read.  It’s a testament to the power of sport (or any shared interest) to unite people and fire imagination.

The artwork, though!  It’s another step up.  Mixed media (some paint, some altered photographs) blend to create the setting: first the basketball court, then the cityscape, and then the planet and space.  The two unnamed main characters are African-American kids with a passion for the game, and Myers has distilled their gangly adolescence in these pages, as well as the boastful reach of their dreams. 

In all, H.O.R.S.E. is a beautiful book and an homage to a game, a friendship, and telling stories.

Recommended for: all-ages fans of art, picture books, and basketball.

I read and reviewed this book as part of the #diversiverse challenge.


If you'd like to see more Monday Memories posts, head over to this week's link list.

Fine print: I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.


Liviania said...

This looks like a really pretty book - and it's cool that you got yours personalized.

(I can remember losing horribly at HORSE - and Knockout - in elementary and middle school.)

missprint said...

This sounds like a great moment! And the book looks fantastic. (Even my very un-sporty and terrible at basketball self remembers playing HORSE as a kid.) A winning combo!

Aarti said...

I don't read a lot of children's books so don't know how to review them, but I agree it looks very pretty! And so cool to get it personalized!

Thanks so much for participating in the Diversiverse challenge! :-)

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