written by Sue Macy; illustrated by Matt Collins
(Holiday House) 2011
Source: Mebane Public Library
Agnes Morley could be a "girly-girl" if needed, but she would rather work on her family's New Mexico ranch in breeches and spurs. Her mother sent her to Stanford University in the hopes that she would become a "lady", but Agnes had other ideas. Her mother would probably not have approvd of the new sport of basketball, but Agnes loved it. On April 4, 1896, Agnes and her Stanford teammates participated in the first women's collegiate basketball game. They played a team from the nearby University of California in front of 500 female fans. It was a rough and tumble defensive struggle, but Stanford came out on top 2-1. These ladies showed they had the gumption to play this new game.
As a basketball fan, I enjoyed reading Basketball Belles for the details of how basketball was played in its early years. The net was closed with a pull chain to release the ball after a basket was made. It was several years before dribbling was allowed and baskets only counted for 1 point in the beginning. Author Sue Macy included an informative time line and author's note in the back matter. Matt Collins's illustrations would make for an interesting activity in comparing how women dressed for basketball in 1896 and how they dress today. This could be included in a unit on change over time. The story is told through the eyes of Agnes which makes this a text you could use for teaching point of view. Any reader who is a basketball fan should find a copy of Basketball Belles.
Other reviews of Basketball Belles:
A Year of Reading
Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month