________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

cover Hockey Rules.

Irene Punt. Illustrated by Ken Steacy. Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
76 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99765-2.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Renée Englot.

*** /4


Tom felt sick. He crawled into bed, zapped. His thoughts were jumbled up like a wad of old hockey tape covered in sock lint. He was mad Mark hadn’t worn his mouthguard. He was glad the Bear got a penalty for tripping him. He was glad the Bears’ first goal was called off. He was mad his own goal was called off. He wished he’d asked Coach Howie to explain offside again. He wished he hadn’t pressed Sens by mistake.

Tom thought about Jeff. Why did I tell him we were robbed? Why did Jordan say he stunk?

Jeff usually babysat Monday. And that was tomorrow.

Tom began to sweat.

Hockey Rules is Irene Punt’s third novel to feature hockey loving Tom. This time, Tom’s beloved babysitter, Jeff, referees one of Tom and his friends’ hockey games. They dislike some of Jeff’s calls and accidentally send an email in which they’ve vented about the outcome of the game and what they consider to be Jeff’s role in that outcome. Luckily for them, superhuman Jeff does not take offence, and the young hockey players learn a lesson about the importance of rules, the difficulty of being fair and the need for mutual respect.

internal art

    There’s definitely a didactic focus in this novel. One gets the impression Punt could be a hockey mom tired of listening to her children blame the ref for their on-ice mistakes. That said, the lesson of mutual respect and the reminder of the difficulty of the job of refereeing are good lessons, and the message does not overpower the plot. Interwoven with this main conflict is a school project on city helpers and a Monopoly induced focus on following rules.

    Tom is a believable character. His dilemma between admiring Jeff and being angry about Jeff’s calls during an important game is well presented. His angst about seeing Jeff again after the email produces a sympathetic angst in the reader. In the short novel, there’s not much time to lend characterization to Tom’s trio of friends, and they can easily be confused. Jeff, as previously mentioned, seems too good to be true.

     Young hockey players will enjoy the story, and even those who aren’t into the game should be able to follow Punt’s descriptions of the street hockey and the ice hockey game against the Bears. Young Calgarians will especially enjoy the references to their city.

Highly Recommended.

Renée Englot, who holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature, is a former junior high school teacher now working as a professional storyteller in school settings.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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