CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
Northern Star. (Sport Stories, No. 84).
Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2006.
112 pp., pbk. & cl., $8.95 (pbk.), $16.96 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55028-910-1 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55028-911-X (cl.).
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Marina Cohen.
Midway through the third period, Peter knew he was having the game of his life. Never had he played this hard for this long. Coach kept putting him out, and Peter kept rising to play. About halfway through the second period, the burning in his legs had been so painful he thought he was going to seize up. He had come off that shift breathing so forcefully he thought his lungs would collapse from lack of air. He was about to tell Coach he needed a break when he heard his name. Over the boards he went.
That had been his turn-around shift. He’d swerved around Warren Steele to fire a shot right through the five-hole, and his adrenalin snapped him into overdrive.
Now he was ready, every shift, to play hard hockey. On the bench, Peter rested his chin on his stick and glanced at the scoreboard. There was just ten minutes left in the game. The Arrows were up 4-3. Peter had scored two goals and assisted on two. Warren Steele had scored two goals for Olds as well. The Arrows had to play good defence to hold off the Olds team.
The fans were really screaming now. For Peter, the noise had become like really loud rock music in the dressing room.
As the clock ticked, the Arrows held their lead. Finally, the game was at the one-minute mark. The Olds goalie skated toward the net. Peter was on the ice with Matt, Tanner, and two Arrows defence. Olds had control and were cycling the puck like crazy. From winger to defence to winger then back to defense, who sent it over to the other defence. The fans were going bananas.
“Shoot,” they screamed, “Someone shoot!”
Peter Kuiksak is the best hockey player in his league. As the number of goals he scores increases, so does the amount of attention he receives. Reporters snap pictures of Peter and write feature articles on him, popular girls call Peter and request to be his partner for school projects, and big-name agents offer him contracts. Everyone is drawn to this rising hockey star, and, although it’s exciting, Peter learns that being a celebrity isn’t always a wonderful thing. Peter must learn to cope with the ups and downs of fame, keeping his excitement in check as well as deal with the jealous, insincere and fickle nature of friends, teammates and fans.
Peter Kuiksak is a believable and sympathetic character, and the changes he undergoes are credible. Shultz Nicholson does a solid job of placing readers inside her main character’s head, thus allowing them to experience Peter’s thoughts, desires, fears and ambition. As the story progresses, readers pick up on the subtle changes in Peter as his personal dream of stardom takes flight. His inner struggles with hockey, school, friends and family are all convincing, though the plot, itself, is fairly predictable and lacking in major conflict.
Prejudice is an underlying theme in this novel. As teammates grow increasingly jealous of the attention Peter receives, more and more negative references are made with regard to his heritage. Shultz Nicholson demonstrates how subtle and insidious racism can be, though, on the whole, the subject is dealt with somewhat superficially.
Action scenes are well-written and engaging though this reviewer feels that the intended audience may expect the novel to contain more such scenes than what is presented.
Overall an enjoyable read.
Marina Cohen has a Master’s Degree from the University of Toronto. She has been teaching for the York Region District School Board for over ten years.
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