CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 2 . . . . September 14, 2007
Essentially identical in format, these two activity books will offer hockey and basketball fans numerous opportunities to test how much they really know about the two sports. And they had better know a lot, as the books’ contents are demanding. Initially, readers must recognize that, when the words “hockey” and “basketball” are used, generally the terms are being used synonymously either with the National Hockey League or the National Basketball Association, with a few passing references to the Olympics and World Championships, plus, especially in the case of basketball, the college level of the game. Additionally, the books focus primarily on men’s participation in the two sports although the basketball volume does include a bit more content regarding women’s participation, likely because, in the United States, women’s college basketball is better developed and a female professional basketball league has been in existence for a number of years.
Each book’s table of contents indicates that the book’s activities are one of: Matching, Trivia, Fill Me In, Puzzles and Long Puzzles, with the hockey book’s entries totaling 41 and the basketball book’s, 42. While the activities are grouped together on the contents page, the individual activities are not kept together by type in the book but, rather, are mixed up. Consequently, readers who want to complete all of the activities of a particular type must keep referring to the content’s page.
Additionally, each book has snippets of appropriate sports related trivia tossed in at the bottom of most pages plus occasional bonus questions which are correctly described as “extra hard” and for “expert. hockey [or basketball] fans only!” You would have to be a real hockey devotee to be able to answer the following connected bonus questions: “Which year were Robert Luongo, Sergei Samsonov and Brenden Morrow drafted? Who was drafted first overall that year?”
In both books, the “Trivia” sections have the most frequent entries with 13. Both of the excerpts above are taken from this section. The fewest activities, with four in the hockey book and five in the basketball volume, are found in the “Matching” category where readers are usually presented with two columns and are asked to make connections: “Nicknames: Can you match the nicknames of these hockey stars, past and present, to their real names?” The next fewest activities, with six in the hockey book and five in the basketball volume, are those in the “Fill Me In” category. As the title suggests, the activity provides some information but requires readers to “fill in the blanks.” An example would be “In the Lane” which instructs readers as follows:
Finally, there are 18 “Puzzles” and “Long Puzzles” in the hockey volume and 21 in the basketball work. The former includes activities like unscrambling mixed up letters to create words (“Can you unscramble these common basketball terms and expressions”, or the “Portland” example below. The “Long Puzzles” contain word finds and crossword puzzles.
While the majority of the activities are directly connected to the specific sport, some, like the “Word Work” portions of “Puzzles” section, are only tangentially related. For instance, the “Word Works” are really just vocabulary/spelling exercises in which the reader is given a word, either the name or location of a team, eg, Portland , and is then challenged to “see how many words you can make using only the letters in ‘Portland’. They must be three letters or longer. We spotted 60; how many can you find?” The books then provide a scale against which readers can rate themselves. With the “Portland” challenge, those scoring between 0-10 words are a “Grade School Star” while someone achieving 50-60 is a “Hall of Famer.”
There are some instances where greater attention needed to be paid to design. One example, “It’s a Numbers Game,” which is found in the basketball book (pp. 21-22), sees readers being invited to “fill in the correct answer, choosing from the numbers in the box below.” The problem is that the box is not “below” but rather is found on the page’s verso. Some design foresight could have located this two page “Trivia” activity on facing pages, thereby eliminating the need for readers to keep flipping the page.
The only somewhat significant weakness of the two books is found in their six page “Answer” sections, the organization of which suggests that the books’ designer assumed that readers would approach the books’ contents in consecutive page order because the answers are simply provided with no linking page numbers. Consequently, if readers utilized the “Contents” page and elected to complete all of the “Fill Me in” challenges first, they would then encounter some difficulties in quickly locating the appropriate answer keys.
Because of the books’ consumable nature, they are unlikely to become part of library collections. However, if the price is not off-putting, each offers lots of fun activities for serious fans of either of the two sports.
Dave Jenkinson, of Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.