who started all this march madness anyway?

hoop genius cover imageHoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, by John Coy, illustrations by Joe Morse
published in 2013 by Carolrhoda Books

I admit: I do not succumb to the tiniest morsel of March madness.

Brackets are formed. Prognostications are made. Hedges are bet. Eyes are glued to TV sets.

I am unmoved.


This seems like a slam-dunk time to read about basketball and the guy who’s responsible for all of this.

His name is James Naismith and back in 1891 he found himself in a pickle.

James Naismith

James Naismith

He was asked to teach P.E. to a bunch of rowdy boys who had already run through (or perhaps run over) two teachers.

Lucky Jim.

Football turned to mayhem.
Soccer sprouted broken noses.
And lacrosse?! Forget about it.

What could a.) burn up these boys’ enormous energy without b.) them killing each other?

hoop genius john coy joe morse interior

Naismith puzzled over his dilemma, then scratched up a set of rules for a new game, rustled up some peach baskets, and the rest, as they say, is history.

hoop genius illustration joe morse

Read this brief, snappy account of the beginnings of basketball and its wild popularity right from the tip off. It’s illustrated by Joe Morse, whose muscular, angular, bold shapes energize the story tremendously.

An Author’s Note tells a bit more about Naismith and charmingly, the original, messy, typewritten rules from the gym are reproduced on the end pages. Fascinating and fun, for ages 6 and up.