cover image The Basket Ball

The Basket Ball

Esm%C3%A9 Raji Codell, illus. by Jennifer Plecas. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0007-1

Lulu is living proof that one can be both girly and athletic. "Lulu messed with makeup./ Lulu played with dolls./ But most of all, our Lulu liked to shoot her basketballs." Her male schoolyard peers won't let her play, so Lulu takes matters into her own hands, inviting "go-to girls with game" from around the world to a fete where they celebrate, compete, and end up forming their own league. Plecas's (Pretend) sweet watercolor illustrations effortlessly capture the global cast and exude an authentic eagerness, but she's saddled with a story that doesn't make much sense. Codell's (Fairly Fairy Tales) paean to self- and collective-actualization feels like it's about a generation or so late to the party: nowadays, athletic girls have plenty of feminine role models, and even young girls can find basketball leagues that are happy to have them. Finally, the idea that aspiring, dedicated athletes like the ones Lulu invites would show up to play a game they love in skirts and "high top heels" is more demeaning than it is funny or touching. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)