Books

Hockey and Children’s Literature

After the holiday decorations come down, winter can seem a bit drab. One way to beat the winter doldrums is to celebrate the fun aspects of cold weather. Since ice hockey is perhaps the most exciting team sport of the season, we have a great collection of hockey books for kids which we showcase every midwinter.

To explore the connections between reading and hockey, I asked some of our most popular hockey book authors, “What makes hockey such a great subject for children’s books?”

Cover image of Face OffMaureen Ulrich, author of Face Off, Breakaway, and Power Play:

My inspiration for Power Plays, Face Off, and Breakaway came primarily from the girls I saw on the ice — their passion, skill, grittiness, and humour. Books about hockey are important because what goes on inside rinks and dressing rooms is a great metaphor for life. Hockey (any sport really) has so many life lessons for us. Ideally the players learn about the importance of physical fitness, perseverance, sportsmanship, and self-sacrifice. While striving for the W, they discover that the biggest W of all is how it helps them to become a better human being who has learned how to handle both failure and success with grace and spirit, who knows it takes all kinds of people to make a hockey team. The highs can’t be too high, and the lows — too low. 

Cover image of When the Moon ComesPaul Harbridge, author of When the Moon Comes, responded to my query in the form of a poem:

On Falling Down

There it lies, the pristine sheet.

Shimmering white,

Shining in its perfection.

My heart leaps.

I want to jump to it,

Try it for myself.

But I don’t dare.

What if I take a spill,

Spill, misspell?

What if I am not

As good as I had hoped?

As good as I had dreamed?

So there it remains –

The page, the canvas, the rink –

Untouched.

No! Don’t turn away!

Get up!

Dare!

Lift the pen!

Embrace the brush!

Take up the stick and go!

Step out there!

Write, draw, cut

That first imperfect line!

Experiment.

Have fun.

Find yourself.

Fall down.

Smear the ink.

Make no sense.

For it is in your imperfection

That you will find your stride,

Your style, your voice.

And maybe one rare, not perfect,

But fine and lucky day,

It will all come together.

And you will tell that story,

Paint that scene,

Score that immaculate goal.

For what is life

But a blank sheet

For us to enter?

Where we can try new roles,

Take our chances,

And test our dreams.

Falling down is the only way

We can find the perfection

That waits hidden inside us all.

(Paul Harbridge, Nov. 22, 2018)

Cover image of Detroit Red WingsEric Zweig, author of multiple books about hockey including the Celebrating Hockey’s History series:

I played hockey as a boy, and if wishing was enough to make it happen, I might have made it to the NHL. Writing about hockey has been a good way for me to stay close to the game . . . I do think that the best part of writing about hockey for younger readers is that, hopefully, it does encourage kids – boys and girls – who may not otherwise be interested in books to become more interested in reading.

Cover Image of I'm CoolKate McMullen, author of I’m Cool:

When my husband and I began writing books about big vehicles I suggested a Zamboni and when my son-in-law heard this he said, “You have to make it a hockey book!” He took us to a NY Rangers game and it was so action packed and exciting. So…we made the book a hockey book. None of our other vehicle books had people in them. I STINK! is only about the garbage truck, I’M DIRTY! is only about a backhoe loader — no people. But with I’M COOL! we added people. Jim, my husband and my favorite illustrator, had such a good time drawing and painting the players and fans. I think it really made the story come alive. My favorite part of writing the story was making the announcer think there’s no way the Zamboni can clean the rink in 18 minutes, but the cool Z-machine knows better.

When I wrote this book, I learned that Mr. Frank Zamboni invented the ice-cleaning machine way back in the 1930s and the Zamboni Company is still run by his family. I interviewed Zamboni drivers, but sadly I never took a ride on a Z-machine myself.  

How do you beat the winter blues?


Our guest blogger today is Rebecca Scotka. Rebecca is the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian at the East Lyme Public  Library in Connecticut. She can be reached at rscotka@ely.lioninc.org.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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