The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale

by Charly Palmer (Author) Charly Palmer (Illustrator)

The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In his author-illustrator debut, Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe-and Africana Book Award-winning illustrator Charly Palmer spins a tall tale about a neighborhood basketball hero.

Have you ever heard of Gravity? No, not gravity, the centrifugal force pulling us to the Earth. I'm talking about Gravity--the greatest ball player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. Gravity is the new kid on the Hillside Projects basketball team, the Eagles. He once jumped so high that his teammates went out for ice cream before he came back down. With Gravity on their side, the Eagles feel unstoppable. They're ready to win "The Best of the Best," Milwaukee's biggest and baddest pick-up basketball tournament. But when they face-off with the Flyers in the final round, the winningest team in the whole city, they realize that it may take a little more than Gravity to bring them to victory. Here is a clever, energetic story about the unsung superstars walking among us, complete with vivid art and heartfelt themes of teamwork, loyalty, friendship, and fun.


A delightful and nicely anecdotal story about the importance of teamwork and the unsung heroes among us.  (Picture book. 4-10).


The tale is likewise delivered by the Eagles’ one girl player with proper fast-break pacing. A high-stepping solo debut, with hardly any exaggeration.

Publisher's Weekly

Inspired by "unsung basketball greats who never made it to the NBA," Palmer follows the Eagles, a team of Black streetball players in Milwaukee, spinning a legend of a brilliant player who brings them together. The Hillside Projects team becomes six with a new arrival, nicknamed Gravity for how he leaps over the others (the team was once "able to go out for ice cream before he came down"). He joins "smooth" Liquid, unpredictable Left 2 Right, high-jumping Sky High, towering Too Tall, and an initially unnamed narrator. Gravity carries the Eagles from the local blacktop to the Best of the Best tournament, where they face the formidable East Side Flyers, a team that even Gravity can’t defeat alone. Through stylized, painterly illustrations that highlight kinetic motion, Palmer shows off pickup basketball athletes’ legendary talents while underlining the power of unity and teamwork. Ages 4-8. 

Copyright 2022 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Charly Palmer
Charly Palmer is a graphic designer, illustrator, and the Africana Book Award and Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award winner for Mama Africa! As a child, he was fascinated by Ezra Jack Keats's illustrations for The Snowy Day, which inspired Charly's own use of color and geometric shapes. He studied art and design at the American Academy of Art and the School of the Art Institute, both in Chicago.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2022

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