The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began

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9780823419050: The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began
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Have you ever wondered how your favorite sport began? Basketball got its start when a physical education instructor invented a new game for bored students. The original soccer ball might have been a skull! The history of other sports is just as surprising--bowling was part of an early religious ritual; lacrosse games used to stretch for miles and last for days; and the king of France once outlawed tennis because it was a gambling game!

Alice Low's witty poems, vividly ilustrated by John O'Brien's uproarious cartoons, hit a true home run for readers.

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About the Author:

John O'Brien is a well-known NEW YORKER cartoonist. For Clarion, he has illustrated DEAR OLD DONEGAL. He has illustrated many children's books, including "Red, White, Blue, and Uncle Who?: The Stories behind Some of America's Patriotic Symbols" by Teresa Bateman. He divides his time between New Jersey and Florida.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2–4—The focus of this slim collection is on the origins of sports, ranging from ancient times (running, swimming, and gymnastics) to modern-day (skateboarding and Frisbees). A factoid introduces each sport; baseball, for example, is linked to Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., a surveyor who drew up the rules of the game in the 1840s and is "often called the father of modern baseball." The best poems offer a lighthearted approach to the creative process; they include "James Naismith's Predicament," which notes that basketball's founder started with the elements he didn't want his game to include (such as balls to be kicked or hit with a stick). Most of the poems are less memorable, however, with forced rhymes and trite observations; in noting soccer's unruly origins, "Kicking the Dane's Head" goes on to conclude that: "And through the years that sport became/a tamer worldwide kicking game." O'Brien's whimsical cartoon illustrations add interest and comic detail; the double-page illustration for "Fast on Their Feet" (gymnastics) shows the ancient bull jumpers of Crete performing vaults, rings, and balance beam exercises with the aid of obliging bulls. This collection will be best appreciated by sports fans and teachers, who will find its innovative approach useful for poetry units.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA END

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