Bryant, Jen. (Illus. Frank Morrison). Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020.

When we read descriptions of Elgin Baylor’s basketball skill and style, it’s impossible not to think of Michael Jordan, even for those who are not basketball players or experts. “He hangs in the air,” “when you think he must come down, he stays up a little longer.” It makes one wonder if there would be a Michael Jordan without Elgin Baylor.

Above the Rim is the story of Baylor’s journey to basketball greatness from his hometown of Washington, D.C., to the College of Idaho in Caldwell, to Seattle University, to the NBA and the Minneapolis Lakers (before they made the move to L.A.) During his NBA career, Elgin changed the game, the NBA, and made his mark on the civil rights movement. He was truly a legend.

Baylor and the historical elements of basketball will hook of the game, the tie to Idaho will interest locals, and the richly expressive oil illustrations that emphasize Baylor’s long arms and legs will draw everyone else, even those who are not basketball fans. With a bit of sport, a bit of history, and a bit of a local connection, Above the Rim is a must-have for elementary picture book collections.

Dewey: 796.323                                                                                                        Interest Level: K – Gr. 4

Awards and Reviews: Booklist starred, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Horn Book starred, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal starred.
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