It’s the 1970s, and Judi loves to shoot hoops in the driveway with her brother and his friends. She hopes she can join a basketball team someday, but her school doesn’t have a female team. So when she gets to high school, she chooses the next best thing: cheerleading with her best friend Stacey. But one day, the school announces that they’re starting a team for the girls because of the Title IX ruling. Unfortunately, as willing as the girls who sign up are (Judi inclusive), there’s little to no funding for their team. They have to DIY their jerseys and practice only when the boys’ team isn’t using the court. On top of that, Stacey is upset that Judi has left cheerleading to play ball, and some girls want to quit because they’re so frustrated. Can Judi and the team make it work?
This was delightful and informative on a historical level. Judi and the girls face formidable challenges to get the team running and convince people to watch their matches. While the boys get their games advertised on the radio, the girls have to sell tickets themselves and convince the school’s administration that their games are worth hosting in the school gym (since they don’t have sponsors yet). As a 90s kid, I have little idea how much the odds were stacked against women in past times so this was eye-opening.
I loved watching Judi expand her social circle and befriend the other girls on the team. She was also exceptionally mature in handling her friendship with Stacey. There are lots of action scenes as the girls play basketball, which were all well done. The girls also travel for away games so there’s an element of travel and road trip adventuring. The Author’s Note shares Tavares’ inspiration for the book and that just made the story all the more richer — I wanted to hug it at the end!
Hoops is a fantastic, historical middle grade graphic novel about equality and basketball set against the backdrop of the rise of a female basketball team in the 1970s. Filled with fast-paced storytelling, beautiful graphics, and a protagonist everyone will be rooting for, this graphic novel is sure to become a fast favorite. It challenges the idea that women’s sports are less than those of their male counterparts and encourages girls to follow any interests or career paths they choose. Fans of sports graphic novels and basketball books will love this!