Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

by John Coy
Illustrated by Randy DuBurke
Published 2015
Carolrhoda Books
32 Pages
Nonfiction Picture Book
Copy obtained from public library

Goodreads Summary
When they piled into cars and drove through Durham, North Carolina, the members of the Duke University Medical School basketball team only knew that they were going somewhere to play basketball. They didn't know whom they would play against. But when they came face to face with their opponents, they quickly realized this secret game was going to make history. 
Discover the true story of how in 1944, Coach John McLendon orchestrated a secret game between the best players from a white college and his team from the North Carolina College of Negroes. At a time of widespread segregation and rampant racism, this illegal gathering changed the sport of basketball forever.

My Thoughts
I love reading about bits of history that are not widely known. Coach Mclendon believed that basketball could change prejudices. The Duke University players had to cover their heads and block car windows so they could not be seen. Since this was during racial segregation, it was illegal for these two teams to play each other. At first, they didn't even want to touch each other. By then end? Well, you won't get any spoilers from me. 

The font looks like the story was written on an old typewriter and many of the pages have a light blue background giving it an "older" feel. 
The story is inspirational and completely relevant today. 
I think it would make a great read aloud for grades 3-6 near the beginning of the school year to spark discussion about differences and prejudices. 

See what others have to say about this book:

Visit the author's webpage.


  1. I just found this book at my library sale, but haven't shared it yet. It's a wonderful story, isn't it, but sad too that so much was missed because of segregation? Thanks, Gigi!

  2. I got this one at NCTE. I never got to read it before we left for FL, I'll put it on my fall TBR for sure!

  3. What a powerful story, it's hard to believe that this was our reality only a few generations ago. It's very fascinating for me as a non-American to learn about momentous periods in American history like this - like a window into a past that is both unbelievable and at the same time almost painfully believable. We've come a long way in terms of breaking down barriers, but there's still a long way to go!

  4. I enjoyed this one too. I like that it shows one more way that segregation affected how people interacted.

  5. I loved this book, too. I was surprised I'd never heard of this incident before and was so glad that it's been written about so beautifully. I loved how the palette of colors shifted from dark colors to bright yellows as the players accept each other.