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“This has been the best few months of my life. Playing basketball with this team,” Judi. - Hoops
by Matt Tavares
AR Test, Graphic Novel
Judi Wilson, a senior in high school, loves basketball. It’s been her childhood dream to play on a basketball team. However, Judi doesn’t have a lot of options because it’s 1975. When her high school announces they’re creating their first-ever women’s basketball team, Judi joins seven other girls to begin their rookie season. However, Judi quickly learns that the girls’ team is very different from the boys’ team. They have no jerseys, transportation, or gym to host home games. Their school’s athletic director refuses to treat them as equals to the boys’ team unless they can fill the gym with fans. Can Judi and her teammates bring a championship to their school and prove that they are just as important as the boys’ team?
Hoops is an exciting graphic novel based on the true story of the 1976 Warsaw High School girls’ basketball team. It focuses on the life of Judi Wilson, the story’s main protagonist, whose encouraging and kind personality brings her basketball team together despite the inequality in the sport. Many readers will admire Judi’s ability to see the positive side of her team’s circumstances. For example, when one of her teammates, Lisa Vincent, thinks about quitting, Judi tells her “We might as well play, right?” Judi’s conflict is relatable because Judi and her team struggle due to inequality. Despite this, Judi advocates for change by proving her worth on the basketball court.
Hoops brings history to life in a delightful graphic novel format. The panels and characters feature a simple art style with lots of colors and shapes. The simplicity of the art enhances the action sequences during basketball games, where each panel recreates the intensity and skill of each player with clear, fluid transitions. Meanwhile, the text appears in a large, capitalized format, and the big quote bubbles help easily identify speakers. Easy vocabulary and short sentences allow seamless movement between panels and pages. Hoops will appeal to reluctant readers because of the format and easy vocabulary. In addition, each page only has three to ten sentences with the occasional paragraph mixed in. Several pages also feature no words and let the illustrations tell the story instead.
The story highlights the historical aspects of women’s inequality in sports. Although the characters aren’t very complex, they experience dramatic development by learning that their advocacy for equality does create change in their community. Judi’s teammate, Lisa Vincent, epitomizes this lesson when she realizes that she’s “sick of being treated like I don’t matter just because I’m a girl,” and joins the team’s effort to create change by succeeding on the basketball court.
The end of the book features a small two-page section that connects the fictional tale with its historical inspirations. The author explains that each character is based on real-life people and reiterates their story about “regular kids who play hard and stand up for what they believe is right.” With the combination of exciting characters, a heartwarming story, and engaging art, Hoops is the perfect story for basketball fans who appreciate young people fighting for equality. Readers looking for more basketball stories should also read The Fifth Quarter by Mike Dawson and Zayd Saleem Chasing the Dream by Hena Khan. However, if you’d like to learn more about women’s fight for equality, check out She Persisted: Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome.
- Cindy Randall, Judi Wilson’s friend on the basketball team, kisses her boyfriend, Mark, in front of the basketball team.
- Judi’s friend, Lisa Vincent, tells a story about her time sledding on the neighborhood boys’ hill. She explains that she “made it about halfway down and then a bunch of boys knocked me off my sled and broke it.” Lisa wasn’t hurt.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Judi Wilson calls a customer at the hardware store a “jerk.” Judi also utters “jeez” at an obnoxious customer.
- Judi and her teammate, Cindy, say “holy moly” multiple times.
- Judi and Cindy repeatedly say, “Oh my god” when surprised or excited.
- Heck is used twice.
- A spectator watching a basketball game says darn.