________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 13. . . .November 27, 2009.


Hockey. (In the Zone).

Robb Johnstone.
New York, NY: Weigl (Distributed in Canada by Saunders Book Co.), 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-60596-131-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-60596-130-9.

Subject Heading:
Hockey-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.





There are two teams in a hockey game. Each team tries to put a hard rubber puck into the other team’s net. This is called scoring a goal. When time runs out, the game is over. The team that scores the most goals wins.

Johnstone’s goal in Hockey is to introduce the sport to those youngsters who are unfamiliar with the game. To attempt to do so in just 24 pages is most demanding, and, not surprisingly, Johnstone does not entirely succeed. Each pair of facing pages treats a single topic Recognizing that his slim volume can’t provide all the necessary details, with five of the topics, Johnstone directs readers to a website that, according to an introductory blurb, was “valid at the time of publication.” At the time this review was written in November 2009, all of the sites were functional; however, the level of detail of information and the writing styles used on the sites are much more demanding than that found in Hockey.

     Following a brief introduction to the history of hockey, in “Getting Ready to Play,” Johnstone turns to the equipment that players wear and use. Although Johnstone mentions that “Goaltenders use blockers to stop shots,” he says nothing about the goalie’s catching glove. One important fact about the game of hockey that Johnstone never mentions is the length of time a game lasts and how that duration of time is divided into intervals called periods. One of the two pages given over to “The Rink” is an excellent full-page, labelled diagram of the playing surface of a hockey rink. Trying to deal with hockey rules in a pair of pages is an impossibility, and Johnstone’s beginning a paragraph about offsides with the statement that “players cannot stand by their opponent’s net and wait for the puck” is just plain confusing. In terms of the book’s structure, the two pages on “Positions” might have more logically fit between “The Rink” and “Following the Rules. “Making it Big” shows the “career” progression a hockey player might follow from Mite to the NHL. “Superstars of the Sport” briefly profiles four greats of the past, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky, while “Superstars of Today” features a quartet of contemporary stars, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Joe Thornton and Paul Kariya. Adults sharing Hockey with children might question at least one of Johnstone’s choices of today’s superstars. “Staying Healthy” provides some general statements on eating and training. “Hockey Brain Teasers” are six questions that call for readers to recall information previously mentioned in the book’s contents. Hockey closes with a page containing a 15 item glossary of words that had been bolded in the text, plus a brief index.

     The book is generously illustrated with full-colour photos, a few showing girls playing hockey. On the positive side, Hockey does not focus on the NHL, and, while many of the photographs are of NHL players in action, there are also some photos of youngsters playing the game.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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