Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

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Dragon Hoops turns a high school basketball championship season into a close-up of life's changes and choices.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. First second 2020, 445 pages.

Reading level: teen, Age 12-15

Recommended for: from 12 years

"I've hated sport since I was a kid. Especially basketball." The young Gene Yang was interested in comics and superheroes. As an adult, he even fulfilled his dream of publishing an award-winning graphic novel (American-born Chinese) while he taught computer science at Bishop O & # 39; Dowd Catholic High School in Oakland, can he keep up with highly acclaimed books with two careers and a growing family, and if so, what is the next graphic novel about?

This school year (2014-15) Mr. Yang hears more and more about the basketball team, the O’Dowd Dragons. You will definitely go to the state and could actually win the championship (after many, many previous disappointments). Is that a story? To find out, Mr. Hang crosses the driveway to the gym, where he almost never goes to talk to head coach Lou Richie. After an hour he has a story: the players, the personalities and the game itself. From that moment on, he follows the team, interviews players, taps notes and takes pictures on his cell phone. The result is this part of a graphic novel.

The main story follows the dragons throughout their championship season (spoiler alert: you win!), But takes a lot of detours. Among them are the origins of basketball, its global impact, great players, the game of women, and Dragon background stories. Most members of the O’Dowd team have at least a nominal Christian background (including pre-game prayers), although they practice Sikhism and go into interesting details about their beliefs. For most players, their guiding principle is B-Ball, and they all work hard to overcome various obstacles to become the best they can be. Not surprisingly, Mr. Yang is becoming a fan. He also shares his own difficulties in telling the story (really, but not entirely factually), occasionally breaking the fourth wall and making a big decision about his future.

So it's not just about basketball, it's also about the choices we make and the people, places, and things that affect us. Sports fans will enjoy the action, but will also learn about character and storytelling. Story fans will enjoy the development, but will also learn something about basketball. Everyone wins!

Overall rating: 4.25 (of 5)

  • Weltanschauung / moral value: 3.75
  • Artistic / literary value: 4.5


  • In the middle of the story, the author struggles with what to include and what to omit – especially a former coach and the controversy surrounding him. The controversy has to do with sexual abuse charges that have never been proven and never resolved. Readers can decide for themselves whether this character should have been included – this could be a good discussion question.
  • Beware of the language: there are a few "hells" and a "damn". In addition, one of the assistant coaches drops a lot of F-bombs, and Coach Richie tears some off himself – all marked with asterisks.

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