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Poetry + Basketball = "Swish! Nothing but Net!"

Words by Isabel Espinoza-Sanchez. Images courtesy of Synnika A. Lofton.

Synnika A. Lofton’s poetry-based children’s book, “Swish! Nothing but Net! tells the passion-driven story of a children’s basketball game. The book’s layout is unique as the wording is carefully positioned but it also plays into the story’s setting and adds to the imagery. Lofton’s writing style is rhythmic, and the book flows nicely considering the fast-paced story of a basketball game. Yet, the pacing is just right since the story does not drag or take too long to “get to the point.” This book is a definite page turner as the reader is at the edge of their seat, wanting to know how it ends. 

“Swish! Nothing but Net!” is beautifully written with such great imagery that the reader feels like they are watching the game from the bleachers with the rest of the crowd. From the players’ sneakers squeaking on the court’s floor to dribbling and shooting baskets, to the chants from the crowd and the rumbles caused by their feet hitting the bleacher’s base, and the coach directing his team to “Redirect!”, Loften perfectly captures the high intensity felt during a basketball game. The reader can feel the teams’ passion and dedication radiating from the pages as “they give their minds and bodies to the game.” 

In addition, Loften mentions “dreamers with clear intentions” and “reaching for the sky” throughout the book; in relation to children dreaming of seemingly impossible ambitions but believing they can reach the stars. Loften’s narrative of persistence and setbacks during a basketball game can be interpreted as an allegory for life as an underprivileged youth or troubled child. It shows that obstacles will arise regardless of whether one is prepared or anticipating the worst. Yet, it also demonstrates that if one keeps their eye on the ball and keeps their head in the game that they can accomplish great things such as winning a basketball game. Loften reveals in the end that persistence, concentration, passion, determination, and commitment are the keys to reaching one’s dreams. 

Lastly, I highly recommend this book. It is definitely a must-read for every Elementary/Middle School classroom since the story is universal and easy to comprehend but interesting and leaves the reader wanting more. The intended audience is not set for just die-hard sports fans, those who know absolutely nothing about sports will also enjoy the book. I love Loften’s message about how the disciplines found in sports can be used in life to succeed and thrive. This is such a great message for kids, and I encourage parents and children of all ages to read Synnika A. Lofton’s “Swish! Nothing but Net!

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