________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 10 . . . .January 20, 2006


Forever: The Annual Hockey Classic.

Roy MacGregor. Illustrated by Brian Deines.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2005.
56 pp., cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-88995-306-6.

Subject Heading:
Hockey stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4



The Christmas Classic had been going on, as Bump’s grandpa kept repeating, “forever.”

The Christmas Classic was really nothing special to someone who might be driving by trying to pry the lid open on a cup of drive-through coffee. It was just a shinny hockey game on a shoveled pond on the outskirts of a little northern town. But to those who played, and those who, like Bump, dreamed of one day playing, the Classic was the highlight of the year.

Bigger than school letting out.

Bigger than birthdays.

Bigger than Halloween.

Bigger, even, than Christmas itself?

The Christmas Classic, began, Bump had to believe from the way his grandpa talked about it, sometime around the time the last Ice Age wiped out the dinosaurs.

It had been started up - sometimes after a long-ago war - by Bump’s grandpa, Denzil Finnigan, and “the Uncles.” The Uncles being Denzil’s five brothers: Eric the goaltender, Brent and Andy the defencemen, and Jimmy and Donny joining Denzil on forward.


This beautiful illustrated short novel tells how a young boy in Grade 3 is itching to play in his family’s Christmas hockey classic. Walter is called Bump by everyone because he falls down, but he hopes that this is the year he will get to play. However, he has to sit on the sidelines as he is just not big enough, and he humiliates himself by falling through the ice and losing his boot. But the next year, Bump finally measures up and is welcomed to the game. He really hopes that he wouldn’t make a fool of himself on the ice and is teased by his older hockey playing sister. Bump manages to keep his stick on the ice and scores the winning goal... a moment he will remember forever. The story continues through the life changes in Walter’s world, and the book ends with Walt skating with his son.

internal art     Roy McGregor is the well-known author of the very popular “Screech Owls” hockey series and a nationally known columnist for the Globe and Mail. The theme of family traditions being passed down through the generations is based on McGregor’s own Christmas classic which took place in Huntsville, ON. He tells a very readable inter-generational Christmas story like Kevin Major’s House of Wooden Santas (Red Deer, 1997). Both stories are realistic portrayals of modern family life, and even though they both have the appearance of being picture books, they are longer books which would appeal to a diverse audience.

     Brian Deine’s paintings are generous in their size, their use of shimmering colours, and their evocation of a heartfelt family tradition. On the cover, Bump is shown in a frontal portrait with his hockey stick, a glowing ochre winter sky in the background. In one scene where Bump is on the sidelines watching, Deine’s uses a net in the foreground to block our view of the rink and show how distant the boy is from the scene of the action. The paintings are magical in their evocation of the dark nights of winter as when Bump and his father stare straight up into the sky. Here, we can easily see the texture of the canvas under the purple hued painting, and the enormity of the sky contrasts with the small figures of the people. The hockey scenes are filled with action, and images of the greatest hockey players are evoked in one of the double page spreads.


Lorraine Douglas is a writer and artist living in Sidney, BC. She played hockey for a number of years in Winnipeg and worked in children’s and youth services for the Winnipeg Public Library.

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

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