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H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  406 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
One day at the basketball court, two kids, a familiar challenge--H.O.R.S.E.?

But this isn’t your grandmother’s game of hoops.

Not when a layup
from the other side of the court
standing on one foot
with your eyes closed is just the warm-up.

Around the neighborhood, around the world, off Saturn’s rings, the pair goes back and forth.

The game is as much about skill as it is abo
Published October 9th 2012 by EgmontUSA (first published September 25th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 627)
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Oct 20, 2012 Lizzie rated it really liked it
This dialogue driven book is full of imagination and playfulness. It feels just like overhearing two boys mess around on the basketball court. The premise is just as uncluttered as the illustrations.
Aug 22, 2015 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom
I probably wouldn't have liked this book if I had read it but we listened to the audio and the reader is also the author who puts so much into the book. I especially liked the author notes that he read at the end.
Lindsay Stier
Genre - Realistic Fiction
Audience - Intermediate & Primary

Quote - "As I approach the court, somewhere over New Jersey, I'll Raise back, open my mouth, dunk the ball through the baseket there, with my tongue!" (p 19)

This book is full of quotes that allow students to create fantastic mental pictures. While the illustrations in this book are fantastic, I would read this book to students without the pictures and have them create their own. I chose this particular quote becuase of the silly natu
Mar 19, 2015 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One sunny day on a city basketball court, one young man challenges another to a game of H.O.R.S.E. as they debate who will take the first shot, the game turns from basketball shots to who can imagine the most fantastically spectacular one. From the court they soar to the top of tall buildings in a single bound, then through the stratosphere, around the globe, and then around the solar system to land with a tongue dunk.

Myers’s brightly colored paint and collage illustrations for his tale of imagi
Sep 22, 2014 Cecelia rated it really liked it
I met author/illustrator/very-tall-person Christopher Myers this last spring in New York at a breakfast event put on by Egmont USA. Myers is a talented artist AND an entertaining conversationalist, and he kept our entire table amused with basketball stories. It was special to hear straight from the author about his inspiration for his Coretta Scott King Honor book. Afterward he was kind enough to personalize a copy of H.O.R.S.E. for me. It was an early meeting, so I can’t say I was my most spark ...more
Jun 17, 2015 Amy added it
Shelves: j-picture-books
Popularity/appeal rating: 3

Quality rating: 4

In a one-sentence nutshell:
The mixed-media illustrations were neat, and I liked Neil deGrasse Tyson's cameo appearance. I loved what Myers said in the afterward about sports:

But also it felt good to play against someone who was an artist, because like dancing, sports can be as much about imagination as they are about athleticism.

When Kambui and I play against each other in basketball or in our summer touch football league with Hank and the rest of our
Nov 18, 2012 Kendra rated it really liked it
LOVE this. Sounds just like my family and I playing ANYTHING, including horse and ghost, or whatever we were calling it in the moment. Such a great example of a typical conversation between two young friends (or even some old ones, let's be honest-we can still be silly). Working together you can often come up with a much better story than alone.
Ashley R.
Apr 26, 2014 Ashley R. rated it liked it
H.O.R.S.E. is about two boys playing the classic basketball game of "h.o.r.s.e." The pair go back and forth questioning each other's moves and tricks to score, all the while the game escalates. The pair use their imaginations to do crazy things on the court, and the game is as much about creativity as it is about how well one can play the game. The illustrations in this book are so vivid! They are painted and they fit around the words differently on each page. This book is not styled like an eve ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Billy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-classes
There are a lot of books about basketball, so a text-to-text connection for H.O.R.S.E. could be accomplished somewhat easily by any reader. One of the books I would connect it to would be Hoop Genius by John Coy and Joe Morse, which is a non-fiction picture book about James Naismith's invention of the sport back in 1891. Aside from showing how the game has changed from Naismith's original rules, such the game HORSE (or GHOST, as it's known to one the characters) being created within basketball, ...more
Feb 18, 2013 Ann rated it liked it
This is a 2013 Coretta Scott King Award Illustrator Honor book. It's fun to see the crazy banter between two young b-ball players and I always like Christopher Myer's illustrations, but this one didn't thrill me. Best part: one of the players is a cool skinny girl.
Oct 25, 2015 MaryannP rated it did not like it
H.O.R.S.E. is a multicultural book that won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award in 2013. I found this title on NLU's multicultural list and liked the summary of it. The illustrations are beautiful and flow from page to page. They bring life to the words on the page as well. I rated this book a 1/5 because there wasn't much to it. I was disappointed with the content and was expecting more from it.

This book is about two boys playing a game of HORSE. One boy calls it HORSE and the other one c
Paul Farbman
Feb 14, 2014 Paul Farbman added it
Recommends it for: Children who like sports or have a big imagination
Recommended to Paul by: Terry Benton
Shelves: 00-in-class
The title says it all, this book brings the best of basketball and imagination together. The central point of the story is the basketball challenge game horse. In this activity, players challenge each other to make shots that they themselves have already made. If a player misses a shot, they get a letter in the word horse. If they spell the whole word, they lose.

The shots the characters come up with are literally out of this world. The speech patterns used by the characters are very easy for th
Michele Knott
Nov 15, 2014 Michele Knott rated it really liked it
Loved the trash talking these two friends do while playing HORSE.
Reminded me of some great Michael Jordan-Larry Bird McDonalds commercials from back in the day!
May 05, 2015 Brindi rated it it was amazing
2013 CSKing Illustrator Honor
2015 Odyssey Award Winner

This audio is excellent!!!! 4-star rating for the story and illustrations though.
Review at:

I had not heard of this book until it won the Odyssey Award this year. Although I could not get the audiobook, I wanted to read the picture book because of my love of Myers’s work. I thought this book was so much fun! It is the story of a blown-out-of-proportion game of HORSE between two friends that keep trash talking the other and one-upping their shots. I love the humor that Myers finds in the grand old tradition of banter on the court. What
Jan 09, 2013 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A basketball court + a ball + two kids = the perfect sum to play horse! When two boys meet at the basketball court, they immediately invite one another to play horse or ghost. It’s the game where one person takes a shot and then the other person has to try to match the shot exactly. It starts out simply enough with a layup with your eyes closed, but watch where this game goes! Filled with a banter that challenges one another to seek an even wilder idea, the two boys quickly start to talk about s ...more
Jul 12, 2013 Christa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Primary
Genre: Fantasy
Quote: "I'm going to stand here, at half-court, with my back to the hoop and I'm going to skyhook this ball clear across the court into that basket, with my eyes closed, standing on one foot, over my left shoulder." (p. 7)

The reason that I chose this quote is because it is very descriptive about how the boy will shoot the basketball into the basketball hoop, and I immediately have a picture in my head of what he is doing. In this book, the boy is playing a basketba
Oct 21, 2013 Sonya rated it liked it
Why This Book: This title will add breadth to the collection by offering an engaging story about basketball! There are a number of students who would be excited to find a book about their favorite sport, and right now there are few books about sports and no basketball stories available.

Genre: fiction, fantasy

Theme/KW: basketball, imagination, friendship

Quality: The story incorporates a friendly competition between friends, but it is good children's literature because it explores their friendship
May 02, 2016 A.J. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coretta-scott
This would be a great book to connect to funds of knowledge for students that enjoy basketball or sports. You could use this book to address how classmates should act on the playground. This book introduces trash talking and some different ways children interact that may not be considered respectful. This book could be a good opening to that discussion.
I also like the overarching message of the book: The only thing that limits the possibility of your dreams is yourself.
This book is a great imaginative book that uses humor, adventure, and friendship as the main key compentnets. the game HORSE is a basketball game where any shot goes. In this book the two characters become eccentric with their inventive ways to shoot a ball. H.O.R.S.E is a great book to advocate that friendship and a competitive games can go hand in hand. The end Authors note is valuable to read. It gives great insight to the idea and reason behind this book.
Karen Arendt
Awesome! I love how each of the boys tries to one-up the other one in the game of H.O.R.S.E, or GHOST, as the other boy calls it. Trying to beat each other without even throwing the ball shows how deep their friendship goes. It is more a game of imagination than skill. Read the author's note at the end to learn how the boys in the story are the author and his best friend. Odyssey Award winner 2015. Am ordering the book and CD for school.
Mar 22, 2013 Britney rated it it was amazing
Audience: After reading this book I think it would best fit grades 1-4. This book is very fun and has a subject that would fit great with students this age. Along with the basketball game it gives a great story with imagination and friends.

Appeal: The story has a great basketball topic and incorporates a lesson about friends and their imagination. It’s a type of story that will appeal to all kids because its just so fun to think out of the box. The kids will like to hear what comes n
Lisa Dean
Mar 08, 2015 Lisa Dean rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-selection
I enjoyed this book a lot. It reminded me of playing similar games as a child, growing up. I have two brothers, and we would always play H.O.R.S.E. and Around the World, when the weather was nice. This story shows a different version of this game, when the children would play it with their grandmother. I thought that it was a very good book, and one that I would read again.
Mar 26, 2015 Libby rated it really liked it
I ordered this from the library because it won the Odyssey Award (for best audiobook production), and I didn't realize it was a picture book until it arrived. The girls and I sat and listened to it together, and it was a lot of fun. I'm NOT a sports person, but even I enjoyed the descriptions of the incredible shots the two characters were planning to make.
Kaylee Bostick
Two boys meet at a basketball court to play a game of H.O.R.S.E.. They use their imaginations to figure out where they will begin the game. I would use this story as a mentor text to assist my students with making stories interesting by using their imagination. The illustrations from this book might additionally inspire students.
A fun, imaginative, game of horse between two trash-talking friends. Myers' artwork is inspired as always.
This would be any easy book to pair with enhancement activities both in PE and art. Although our horse games were in the backyard, not a city court, it reminded me of all the crazy shots we would invent!
Dec 11, 2015 Erin rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book: the language, the pictures, the story, the message. It was such a fun read, and I loved the vibrant colors and overall layout of the book. It was fun to see how far imagination can take a couple of boys playing a game of basketball.
Oct 15, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The other day, I had a 2nd grade student approach me with a basketball on the playground. He said, "Can your daughters' dad do this?" And he bounced it as quickly and carefully as he could, while the ball managed to hit his toe and bounce away at a rapid speed. Even a 2nd grade boy is challenging my husband to a basketball duel and my husband wasn't there to defend himself. H.O.R.S.E. is a version of the previously stated scenario, just two friends against one another instead. With illustrations ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Kaycee rated it really liked it
H.O.R.S.E. is a book about two kids playing the game of matching shots in basketball. The two kids go back and forth saying what type of shot they are going to do getting more creative and more complicated each time. The shots range from on top of a building to around the world to outer space. This book won a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. The art in the book is simple and only focuses on the important aspects of the story; some pages will only show the two basketball players and others will in ...more
Courtney Gayle
This book is great for students to learn about the game of Horse but most importantly to learn how to use their imaginations. The book was about two boys overly exaggerating how they would win against the other in a game of Horse. Coretta Scott King.
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Christopher Dean "Chris" Myers is an American writer and illustrator of children's books. In 1998, Myers won a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Harlem. The following year, he wrote and illustrated Black Cat, a book that received a Coretta Scott King Award (2000). In addition to writing and illustrating his own stories, Myers often illustrates books written by his father Walter Dean Myers.

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