Title: Dragon Hoops
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: First Second
Publishing Date: 2020
Genre/Format of the Item: Book-Graphic Novel
A 2020 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
School Library Journal 2020 Best Book of the Year
2021 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens
Reading Level/Interest Level:
Grades 10-12 (NoveList)
Plot Summary: Gene Yang began writing this book while he was a high school teacher at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. He found himself fascinated with the high school basketball team’s record and their players. He began to chronicle the team’s successes and failures, along with introducing many of the players. Yang intermingles the history of basketball into the story, offering readers a very palatable history of the sport. Yang writes with compassion and honesty about tough subject matter, including racism, child molestation, and the emotional roller coaster that the team goes through on their journey to success. Yang also discusses his own internal struggle with balancing life and work. He is offered a huge contract by DC Comics and is unsure of whether to take a risk in pursuing his dream.
Author Background: Gene Luen Yang began writing comics in the fifth grade. Yang has since been awarded numerous awards for his books including being appointed as a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress, Every Child A Reader, and the Children’s Book Council. Yang’s book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to win the Michael L. Printz Award. Yang has written numerous comics and graphic novels. Yang is currently also a creative writing professor at Hamline University (Yang, n.d.).
Critical Evaluations: Yang’s artwork is engaging and easy to follow. The panels change in size and detail, but this is done to highlight emotions and large events within the book. The colors are somewhat muted but this is appropriate for the subject matter. I really liked how Yang looks at basketball through a very neutral lense, exposing the racism and sexism that took place. He also mentioned how one player asked this his hair be drawn differently in order to differentiate his ethnicity from some of the other players. Yang listened to him and changed the character’s hair. This is a perfect example of Yang’s approach to his writing and his life. I think that teens will really enjoy this book, especially if they are interested in sports. I think that the format as a graphic novel allows this book to be enjoyed be a wide audience, regardless of their feelings about basketball. The book is about the lives of the players and their team dynamics, but it is also about taking chances and finding the inner strength to stand up for what you believe in.
Creative Use for a Library Program: This book would be an excellent title to highlight for a teen sports in writing night. Teens could come to the library for an event. The teen librarian would find interesting non-fiction and fiction books with sports as the theme. Teens could create their own mini book ideas and offer each other speed talks on their future book. There could be ping-pong and darts for the teens to play afterwards (easy indoor sports for a library room!).
Speedround/Book Trailer: Dragon Hoops follows a high school basketball team as they work towards winning a state championship. This book is about the players, and their lives, and the camaraderie that forms when people put so much of themselves into their passion. Yang’s dedication to telling the true story of this team is evident in his work! Read Dragon Hoops to find out more!
Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: Perhaps a patron may disagree with the discussion of religion and its influence on basketball. Yang discusses the history of basketball and the rise of Catholic school basketball teams and stars. I would defend this book as important for my collection because Yang perspective is that of a historian. He is merely telling what he has researched. This book works to defy many stereotypes and work through difficult subject matter. It won a Printz award for its literary merit and deserves a place in the library’s collection.
Reason for Inclusion: I included this book because I wanted to have very diverse authors in my blog. Yang is offers his readers a down-to-earth look at the history of basketball and the grit and dedication that it takes to succeed in high school basketball. I wanted a book with a sports theme and having it in a graphic novel format makes it enjoyable for all readers, whether they are sports fans or not.
Fierce Reads. (2020, March 10). Dragon Hoops Book Trailer [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQWEccmcC1U
Yang, G. L. (n.d.) About. https://geneyang.com/about-gene
Yang, G. L. (@geneluenyang). (2020, November 9). Dragon Hoops won the 2020 Harvey Award for Book of the Year! Superman Smashes the Klan won the 2020 Harvey Award for Best Children’s or Young Adult Book! @01FirstSecond @ODowdAthletics @DCComics @DCComicsKids@DCSuperman [Tweet]. Twitter.https://twitter.com/geneluenyang/status/1325927126873247744?lang=en