Hardwood Glory: A Life of John Wooden

Foreword by UCLA Basketball Coach Steve Alford

John Wooden helped define college basketball in the twentieth century and became an icon of American sports. His name is forever identified with the University of California, Los Angeles, where in the 1960s and 1970s he built a basketball dynasty and coached Bruin teams to unprecedented success: ten national championships in twelve years, seven national titles in a row, four perfect seasons, and an eighty-eight-game winning streak, all NCAA men’s records that remain unrivaled.

To speak only of Wooden’s UCLA coaching career is to overlook a significant part of his life story, however. Wooden was born in Indiana, and throughout his long life – he died in 2010 just months shy of his hundredth birthday – he remained proud of his Hoosier roots, enough so that he visited his home state whenever possible, maintained contacts with old friends, and always stayed true to the midwestern values instilled in him by his family and teachers. In 1948, when at age thirty-seven Wooden accepted UCLA’s head basketball job, few West Coasters had ever heard of him. Plenty of Hoosiers had.

They knew him as a young “John Bob” growing up on a Morgan County farm near the hamlet of Centerton, learning to toss a rag-stuffed ball through a tomato basket nailed to a barn wall. They knew him as the accomplished athlete nicknamed “Pert” who helped his Martinsville High School basketball team compete in three state championships. And they knew him as the “India Rubber Man” at Purdue University in West Lafayette, where as a three-time All-American guard he delighted fans with his hustle and dives for loose balls. Hoosiers, too, are the ones who called Wooden “coach” before the rest of the nation knew him as “Coach.” In the 1930s and 1940s, “Johnny” Wooden honed his hoops-teaching skills at South Bend Central High School and later at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) in Terre Haute before crossing the continent to make basketball history.

In this tenth volume of the Indiana Historical Society Press’s celebrated Youth Biography Series, Barbara Olenyik Morrow traces the path of Wooden’s career. Readers young and old will meet the coaches who served as Wooden’s mentors; the high-school sweetheart who became his devoted wife, Nell; the players who both respected and challenged him, and the fans who revered him not just for his coaching record but also for his decency and common-sense wisdom – wisdom encapsulated in his homespun maxims (“Never mistake activity for accomplishment”) and highlighted in his well-known “Pyramid of Success.” Full of archival photos, this biography also shows how Wooden’s story is inseparable from major events and social currents in the twentieth century, from the Great Depression to civil-rights struggles to campus unrest during the Vietnam War.

Published by Indiana Historical Society Press, 2014
Ages 10 and up

* Best Books of Indiana, 2011 Finalist, Children/Young Adult Category

* One of 10 “Great Summer Reads” recommended by NUVO editors and writers, 2011

Nature's Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter

As a young girl growing up in the 1860s on a Wabash County, Indiana farm, Geneva Grace Stratton received a wondrous gift from her father, Mark, who had noticed his daughter’s love for nature and wildlife, especially the larks, cardinals, passenger pigeons, swallows, and hawks that flew overhead. He declared that all birds on the farm belonged to her, and she was to become their protector. “I was the friend and devoted champion of every bird that nested in the garden, on the fences, on the ground, in the bushes, in the dooryard, or in the orchard trees,” she noted years later.

From these early beginnings, Gene Stratton-Porter found a purpose for her life — that of sharing the outdoors with others through writing and photography and of working to conserve nature for the generations to come. By the time she died at age sixty-one, Stratton-Porter was one of the country’s best-known authors, with a following of fifty million readers worldwide and with her novels and nature books selling hundreds of copies a day. She used her popularity to campaign for conservation, and some claimed she was as influential as President Theodore Roosevelt in igniting public interest in wildlife causes.

Published by Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010
Ages 10 and up

“Gene Stratton-Porter’s love of birds, moths, flowers and stories is packaged neatly in this biography..... Nature’s Storyteller also highlights much of Stratton-Porter’s conservation work and how it has impacted the Indiana we know today.”- Best Books of Indiana, 2011

“Morrow’s 181-page book reads like a story not a weighty dissertation, though its supplementary materials offer a detailed roadmap for further research…..[It] contains a feast of historical photographs, offering the readers of all ages not just a deeper understanding of the subject, but also of the time and place she occupied…..Stratton-Porter lived her life on her own terms. Morrow’s book helps readers far removed from that life discover the many different ways Stratton-Porter’s life and work remains relevant today.” - Rebecca Townsend, NUVO

“It’s the mark of a good author when one of earth’s most unpopular insects can be made into a hero and actually have the reader cheering for it by the end of the book. This is what happens in Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo... The rhyming text by Morrow is clever and upbeat. The colored ink with acrylic wash illustrations by Goembel are whimsical and wonderfully detailed... Get this book and read it! A terrific read aloud for young children!
- Willow Lane Reviews

* Recipient of the 2010 Juvenile Literary Award presented by the Friends of American Writers, which recognizes emerging Midwestern authors of juvenile and adult literature.

Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo

The ball is simply buzzing!
The music is humming.
Six-legged dancers are twirling.
When suddenly …eeeeeeegadd!
Enormous feet are about to stomp on the whole affair!
Can a dapper mosquito, dressed in a tuxedo, avert this disaster?

Illustrated by Ponder Goembel
Published by Holiday House, 2009
Ages 4-8

“Everyone is a-buzz because the ball is about to begin! Mr. Mosquito, debonair in his top hat and tails, makes a grand entrance. Cockroaches, bedbugs, gnats and fleas – all are resplendent in Roaring Twenties attire. But wait. Eeeeeegad! What is that? An enormous bear is headed straight toward the party. Amidst the shrieking ladybugs and freaking fireflies, Mr. Mosquito gallantly steps forward, gathering his relatives and leading the charge: ‘Prepare! Point antennae! Deploy!/We swarm out tonight/ to drive BIG FEET from sight./ Are you ready? Get set. Go annoy!!!!’ Morrow’s staccato rhymes propel the story with a jaunty beat and inspire an exalted tone for a read-aloud – quite fitting for such an elegant occasion..... Goembel’s insects are impeccably precise, even while dripping in beds and feathers. Pair this gala with Dee Lillegard’s The Big Bug Ball (1999), illustrated by Rex Barron, and storytime will become the social event of the year. Six-legged black tie required.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Shivery fun.” – The Horn Book

“The rhymes are clever and the big ending... is an amusing surprise.” - Booklist

“The abundant and rhyming text is only half of this story; the illustrations tell the rest.” - School Library Journal

* Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2004

* One of three children’s books honored by the Indiana Center for the Book/Indiana State Library, “Best Books of Indiana,” April 2005

* Nominee for “Young Hoosier Book Award,” 2006-2007

* Referenced in Reading Aloud Across the Curriculum: How to Build Bridges in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies by Reba M. Wadsworth and Lester L. Laminack (Heinemann, 2006)

A Good Night for Freedom

One chilly winter morning, Hallie makes a startling discovery. Runaways! Two runaway slaves, Susan and Margaret, are taking refuge at Katy and Levi Coffin’s home, a stop on the Underground Railroad. Slave catchers ask Hallie if she knows anything. Now she must choose between protecting her family or helping the two strangers she’s only just met.

Based on historical events, this powerful story reveals the courage it took for people to run for freedom, and for one young girl to help them.

Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
Published by Holiday House, 2004
Ages 4-11

A “thoughtful work of historical fiction…An excellent choice for children studying the Underground Railroad.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Thrilling…The well-written text smoothly blends fact and fiction….For social-studies units, Indiana history, and stories about strong female characters, this title is a worthy addition.” - School Library Journal

A “dramatic picture book… ….Inspired by the true account of two runaway slave sisters who were hidden by Underground Railroad leader Levi Coffin in his home in Indiana in the 1830s.” - Booklist

A “gripping tale….Morrow creates an insightful narrative with many trenchant moments.” - Publishers Weekly

“…an excellent introduction to the attitudes of the era and the brave people who provided refuge to fleeing slaves.” - The Indianapolis Star

From Ben-Hur to Sister Carrie

Drawing on new material and pulling together old, Barbara Olenyik Morrow tells the story of five famous Hoosier authors: Lew Wallace, James Whitcomb Riley, Gene Stratton-Porter, Booth Tarkington, and Theodore Dreiser. All of them were born in the nineteenth century and lived to see the twentieth. All of them produced best-selling books of fiction and/or poetry, and all achieved prominence far beyond the borders of their home state. Morrow’s approach is “popular” literary history; she highlights aspects of the writers’ lives and works that at times have been overlooked….and she also discusses their legacies. This volume is liberally illustrated with photographs, some of them never before published. It also contains a hitherto unpublished memoir by a relative of Theodore Dreiser.

Published by Guild Press of Indiana, 1995
Ages 10 and up

Those Cars of Auburn

A straightforward and breezy account of how two brothers in Auburn, Indiana began building “horseless carriages” in their buggy factory in the early 1900s, and how an auto company was quickly born and then transformed with the help of a visionary businessman named E. L. Cord. The company eventually built some of the most handsome and best-engineered cars ever made. Today admirers of classy Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs pay homage to them by visiting the beautifully restored company headquarters, now a museum in Auburn, and by joining in the fun each Labor Day weekend when the “classic cars” go on parade.

Illustrated by Dan Lynch
Appropriate for all ages
About Barb
Barbara Olenyik Morrow is a children's book author whose work has garnered praise from reviewers. Her spirited read-aloud Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo was honored in 2010 by the Friends of American Writers, which recognizes the work of emerging Midwestern authors of juvenile and adult literature.
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