Hoop Queens 2

Candlewick. (Sports Royalty). Apr. 2024. 40p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781536225341.
Gr 4 Up–This follow-up to Hoop Queens again offers short poems paired with action photographs to pay tribute to 13 of the sport’s best players. These range from veterans Sue Bird and “Scoring Machine” Diana Taurasi to younger stars Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart. Smith plays on the latter’s name, using alliteration to craft a catchy refrain: “Breanna be ballin’.” In “Smooth Like What,” Smith sums up A’ja Wilson’s masterful skills: “Dribble drive smooth like/ a fresh donut’s glaze./ Making it look easy/ in so many ways.” Crisp, staccato rhymes and double-page photographs conjure the sights and sounds of the fast-paced game. Brittney Griner’s photo finds the 6’9” center jumping high, arms spread to block her opponent’s shot, showcasing her intensity and dominance. The text for “S-S-S-Skylar” (Diggins-Smith) curves playfully across the page, as Smith enumerates her strengths: “sly/ skittery/ slithery/ snaking/ sneaking/ slippery/ sidewinding/ smoothly/ shifting.” Though a few poems fall flat, overall this collection offers a winning mix of wordplay, alliteration, and rhythms. Fans will relish Smith’s inventive tribute to a fresh group of stellar athletes.
VERDICT Accessible and appealing short poetry and wordplay, paired with exciting photographs, will draw a wide audience. Librarians and language arts teachers will also appreciate the read-aloud qualities and potential to inspire creative writing units.

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