H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination

by Christopher Myers (Author) Christopher Myers (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

One 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 award-winning author and 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.

Kirkus Reviews

An exciting bragging-rights adventure on the basketball court, around and beyond planet Earth and back again.

Hornbook Guide to Children

Starred Review

Myers's graceful illustrations employ his signature combination of gouache painting and cut-paper collages using photographs as backgrounds, but there is more painting than collage here, and consequently, more space for the imagination to take flight.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

This wonderfully inventive, mordant duel of words offers both an advanced discussion of a particular sport (basketball) and flights of big-talking fancy. The setting is urban; Myers (Looking Like Me) creates collages that combine painting, lots of blank space, and photo images of city buildings. A pair of gangly and competitive boys co-star. "Hey," says one, "want to play a game of horse?" setting the stage for a war of words in which the boys propose ever more improbable shots, taking the one-upmanship, swagger, and style inherent to the game to delirious extremes. "I will stand on one tiny tiptoe, balance myself on the topmost corner of the 437-story building, and shoot a perfect layup, with my left... foot," says one boy. "Now you tell me," protests the other in mock dismay. "What?" "That we could leave the court." Although the book lands softly after the last crazy idea ("from there, the ball will ricochet through the vacuum of space"), the energetic dialogue and gravity-defying artwork more than compensate. An excellent readaloud for kids who scorn fluffy-bunny books and want to play like the big kids. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)

Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Two friends on an urban basketball court begin a game of H.O.R.S.E. For the uninitiated, Myers does a fine job describing how to play the game, which is similar to Ghost: one player shoots any kind of shot (layup, jumper, etc.) and the other player has to duplicate it. If the second player fails to make the shot, he gets one letter and the game continues until someone loses five times and spells the word H.O.R.S.E. It sounds simple enough, until these two players get creative, such as balancing on the top of a 437-story building and shooting a perfect layup with the left foot. As the friends raise the stakes and the braggadocio rises to an inventive pitch, readers will appreciate the grand humor. White or plain background space emphasizes the dramatic shots that are dreamed up. In addition, the text waves up and beyond the skyline just as the ball can soar. This book will encourage all readers to grab a close friend and get out to play a game, matching their athleticism to their imaginations.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Christopher Myers
Like the ballplayers in this book, Christopher Myers defies gravity every chance he can get. Their imagination took them into outer space; his has taken him from Harlem during its Renaissance in "Harlem: A Poem," written by Walter Dean Myers, to vibrant city streets in "Black Cat," from the bounds of Earth with "Wing" and "Fly!" and into a fiercely fought basketball game in "Jabberwocky," by Lewis Carroll.
For these flights of imagination, Christopher has received many awards and honors, including a Caldecott Honor, three Coretta Scott King Honors, three "Boston Globe-Horn Book" Honors, and a "New York Times" Best Illustrated award.
When he isn t working, Christopher plays touch football with a bunch of other artists in Brooklyn, New York."
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2012
Coretta Scott King Award
Honor Book 2013 - 2013

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